Representatives of AutoNation, Inc. and the Dolphins Challenge Cancer (DCC) were recently recognized during the Miami Dolphins home opener against the Denver Broncos at Hard Rock Stadium for their new commitment of $1 million to address health disparities linked to social, economic and environmental factors. The Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) will receive the donation to fund groundbreaking research at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center to advance the scientific understanding of the relationship between social determinants of health, specifically neighborhood disadvantage and breast cancer mortality. AutoNation’s partnership with DCC and BCRF is part of its decade-long DRV PNK mission to drive out cancer, which has donated more than $35 million to charitable community partners to generate awareness and support critical research and treatment of cancer.
The Dolphins Challenge Cancer was founded in 2010 by the Miami Dolphins organization as the signature initiative of the foundation and it has become the largest fundraising event in the NFL. Since its inception, the DCC has raised over $64 million, donating 100% of participant-raised funds to Sylvester. Jaelan Phillips, the Miami Dolphins linebacker who also serves on the Board of Directors for Dolphins Challenge Cancer, helped announce the initiative through a partnership launch video during the game.
“As a Miami Dolphin and Dolphins Challenge Cancer Board member, I’m proud to team up with AutoNation to support the Breast Cancer Research Foundation,” Phillips says. “Despite slightly lower rates of breast cancer, black women are 40% more likely to die of the disease than white women. And despite lower breast cancer rates, Hispanic and Latino women are more likely to be diagnosed with more aggressive forms of the disease at later stages.”
A special-edition “Tackling Cancer” lapel pin was available for purchase at the Miami Dolphins merchandise store during the game. AutoNation designed the pin with a Dolphins Challenge Cancer co-branded design and 100% of the purchase price was donated to BCRF.
Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer in the U.S. and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths. Despite significant medical advancements in the last 30 years, resulting in earlier diagnoses and more effective treatments, social, personal, financial, and informational barriers still contribute to disparities in breast cancer care outcomes across different communities. While breast cancer affects people of all races and ethnicities, minorities face more significant disparities in breast cancer screening, care, treatment, and outcomes.
The $1 million donation received by the Breast Cancer Research Foundation will fund a project led by Dr. Neha Goel, a BCRF investigator. The research project will be conducted at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of UHealth – the University of Miami Health System, located near the Fort Lauderdale headquarters of both Dolphins Challenge Cancer and AutoNation. The project investigates the links between neighborhood stress and aggressive breast cancer biology. Studies have shown that women in low-income neighborhoods have higher breast cancer mortality rates than those in affluent areas. The drivers of this survival gap are multifactorial and intrinsically linked to the racial disparities in breast cancer outcomes. The research project funded by the donation will improve the scientific understanding of these links.
“We are so grateful for the commitment of our long-time partners at AutoNation and the support of Dolphins Challenge Cancer,” says BCRF Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Dorraya El-Ashry. “Dr. Goel’s research will help to define how one’s neighborhood, right here in South Florida, impacts their breast cancer, not just in terms of access to care, but also in terms of its influence over the tumor’s characteristics and behavior and ultimately, their survival outcomes. This partnership is providing us with the ability to identify the deeply complex role that social determinants of health such as environmental stress and neighborhood play in breast cancer mortality.”
Image Credit: Miami Dolphins
Photo caption: (L-R) Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center MD, Gastrointestinal Surgical Oncology, Sarcoma and Connective Tissue Surgical Oncology, Surgical Oncology Nipun Merchant; Dolphins Challenge Cancer Board Chairwoman Elizabeth Jenkins; AutoNation Cancer Survivor and Sr. Specialist of Customer Marketing Susan Miller; AutoNation Chief Executive Officer Mike Manley; Breast Cancer Research Foundation Chief Scientific Officer Dorraya El-Ashry; Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, MD, Breast Surgical Oncology, Cutaneous (Skin) Surgical Oncology, Sarcoma and Connective Tissue Surgical Oncology, Surgical Oncology Neha Goel; Breast Cancer Research Foundation Managing Director of Business Development Lisa De Luca; Dolphins Challenge Cancer Executive Director Javier Sanchez.