by Jennifer Yarbrough
Raising awareness and funds to support appendix cancer research and ultimately finding a cure.
Kate was a wife. She was a pilot. She was a friend. She was a daughter. In the midst of a recurrence of a rare form of cancer, she said that “finding a cure for cancer is like finding one special grain of sand on the beach…the more help the better our chances.” In the midst of her battle, she called on others to help fight for cancer awareness and for a cure. Her husband, Greg Waidmann, carries that message on today as he, and other “Souls of the Beach,” continue to promote awareness and research through their non-profit.
Kate Schwikert Waidmann attended Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, played collegiate soccer, and pursued a career in aviation. Being a pilot was more than a profession to her, it was her passion.
In 2012, in her early 30s, Kate was diagnosed with appendix cancer that then spread to her abdomen, her colon, and right kidney. She underwent surgery and chemotherapy and then entered remission. Sadly, the cancer returned in 2014 and she passed away that year. Throughout it all, Kate maintained her positive attitude, her tenacity, and her love for family and others. While in the hospital she, along with her husband Greg, arranged to have stuffed animals delivered to children at a local hospital. They also decided to start a charity to help bring awareness to appendix cancer.
Souls of the Beach
When discussing the name of the charity, Kate insisted it have something to do with the beach because she and Greg were “beach people.” They lived close to the beach and spent many days playing beach volleyball and jogging, and many evenings strolling along the shore. She flew with her husband Greg to many destinations, but her favorites were always beaches. She especially loved Scotland Cay, Abaco, Bahamas.
Souls of the Beach raises funds through the online sale of positive, motivational t-shirts and decals at soulsofthebeach.com. They also participate in the “Color Me Kate” 5K started at Embry Riddle to support Kate and Souls of the Beach. Funds raised by the Non-Profit go to a Scholarship at Embry Riddle in her honor and to Dr. Paul Sugarbaker’s Foundation for Applied Research in Gastrointestinal Oncology (FARGO).Dr. Sugarbaker is a pioneer of heated chemotherapy used in the treatment of different gastrointestinal cancers, he was also Kate’s doctor.
Souls of the Beach is looking forward to holding a 5K fundraiser in the St. Johns area in the near future. Please visit their Facebook page, “Souls of the Beach,” to stay updated and get involved in raising awareness for and finding a cure for appendix and gastrointestinal cancers.
Greg would love to talk to anyone interested in joining the cause. He invites the public to stop by his shop, Fully Promoted (540 SR 13 N, Ste 105, Fruit Cove, FL 32259) to pick up a free window cling to raise awareness and visibility for the cause.
Photos by Mindy Kerr of Nature's Child Photography
What makes a community great? It's all about the people who live and work there and the sense of connection they feel with one another. Sometimes it is reflected in how they come together in the face of adversity.
There is a small business here in St. Johns that is one of a kind; Rivertown Fine Wine & Spirits on CR 210 near Publix. What makes it special is the owners, Frank & Bonnie Dvoravic. The couple has been here since 2006, with 2017 marking their eleventh anniversary. Over the years, they have seen a lot of changes with new people and neighborhoods, and new businesses coming and going. Their consistent presence, friendly personalities, and all-around kindness have made them both well-known and loved in our community. Here is a place where hello and how may I help you really mean something.
Inside Rivertown is an extensive selection of fine wines and liquor, with highly rated brands and favorites specifically chosen by Bonnie and Frank. A beautiful glass case along the left wall houses fine cigars, Bonnie’s specialty, from all over the world. Near the back of the store is Frank’s collection of Bourbons, over 100 varieties, which he has specially selected for his customers. Frank has been in the liquor business for over twenty years and during that time he has developed a passion for good bourbon. They also have a large selection of Tervis Tumblers covering an entire section of the store.
Each year in honor of the store’s anniversary that coincides with Bonnie’s successful battle against pancreatic cancer, they hold a silent auction to benefit PANCAN, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Community members are familiar with the big green bottle on the counter where customers may donate to this excellent cause. In 2016 they raised over $16,000! So far in 2017, they have already raised $7,200!
Which brings us back to the topic of COMMUNITY. A few months ago, Rivertown was broken into. Both the community and Frank & Bonnie were taken off-guard. Property was damaged and money was stolen from that very special green bottle on their counter where they keep donations to PANCAN.
What happened next was an amazing example of how St. Johns as a community came together in force to show their support for this beloved local business. Like the little girl who told her Dad she wanted to donate her allowance to Rivertown. Or, the regular customer who came in and asked Frank how much he lost. Frank told him it was about $400. Not long afterward the man came back with $400 - he had gone to the bank to get it. A local woman heard about what happened and started a go fund me account which raised over $1200. The response from the community was overwhelming and although Frank and Bonnie never expected it they were grateful beyond words.
There is a photo taped near the entrance to Rivertown that shows Frank and Bonnie’s beautiful Riverfront home not long after Hurricane Matthew had blown through and left its destruction last fall – there is a rainbow shining over the dock and it is about the most beautiful sight you’ve ever seen. Bonnie took the photo, she said, to remind her of how lucky they are and how things always have a way of working out. Frank and Bonnie devote themselves every day to giving back whether it is through PANCAN or just a friendly smile to someone who stops by the store. In return, they have helped create the kind of community that cares. Thank you, Bonnie and Frank for all you do to make St. Johns great!
Frank's twenty-plus years in the liquor business come into play when selecting premium bourbons & whiskeys for the store.
Bonnie's Speciality Knowledge in Premium Cigars helps customers choose the perfect one for their needs
St. Johns Magazine