Town 'N Country Resident Earns

Nomination For Moral Courage Award

 

Town 'N Country News- Wednesday, January 29, 2001
A Weekly Publication by the Tampa Tribune

By Michael Murillo

 

MISSION INVOLVES EDUCATION, LEGISLATION

Bob Samuels has been nominated for Hillsborough County's 2003 Moral Courage Award for his work with the Florida Prostate Cancer Network. He has personally survived prostate and throat cancer.

Each year, Hillsborough County recognizes individuals who demonstrate high ethical standards and have made a difference in their community.

And Town 'N Country resident Bob Samuels is a nominee for the county's 2003 Moral Courage Award.

"I think it's a real honor." Samuels said. "I'm extremely proud that people think the work that I do has some value."

For people whose lives have been affected by prostate cancer, his work has significant value. Samuels is chairman and founder of the Florida Prostate Cancer Network, a not-for-profit organization in Town 'N Country that focuses on prevention methods, legislation, research and providing information related to prostate cancer.

And while the organization uses many avenues to accomplish its goal, Samuels has a simple description for the network's mission. "We're an activist group, and an education group, and a whatever-it-takes-to make-it-happen group," he said.

"Whatever it takes" includes distributing a prostate cancer resource directory, organizing annual African-American men's health forums and pushing for legislation that addresses prostate cancer in Florida. Awareness is especially important since 95 percent of prostate cancer is curable if detected early.

Last year, Samuels tried to get the Legislature to pass the Prostate Cancer Awareness Act, which would have funded an awareness program and advisory committee. And although Florida ranks second in the nation in new prostate cancer cases, Samuel's efforts were unsuccessful and the state still has no specific legislation relating to prostate cancer. Samuels pointed out that 22 states have some form of prostate cancer legislation, and he plans to try again with the 2003 Legislature.

Before retiring to Florida in 1992, Samuels was vice president of the Global Financial Institutions Group in New York. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1994. At that point his life changed, and Samuels was determined to take action in helping others who are afflicted with prostate cancer. "I jokingly tell people that I spent 31 years in banking in New York trying to protect people's assets. Now I'm involved in saving men's... backsides," he said with a laugh. "It's a whole new mission in life. And that's what I've made it - a mission."

According to Ricky Reynolds, head football coach at Blake High School, Samuels fulfills his mission with information and education. "What he's been trying to do is really educate people, and bring literature and information to them about different diseases such as prostate cancer, high blood pressure and heart disease," Reynolds said.

Reynolds got involved with the annual African-American Men's Health Forum about three years ago, when Samuels looked to former football players to help promote the event. Reynolds played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New England Patriots during his professional football career. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in June 2002, but is in good health today.

And while there are many factors motivating Samuels, Reynolds offers a simple explanation for his commitment to the community. "I think he just has a heart for people," Reynolds said about Samuels. Every time someone calls him with a problem, he's able to help them make some wise decisions."

Candidates for the Moral Courage Award must meet specific criteria in order to merit consideration. But all candidates have displayed a willingness to pursue an agenda in spite of obstacles from government. "The criteria point to people who have stood for what is morally right in the face of government actions, which keep them from achieving their goals," said Edith Stewart, public affairs officer for Hillsborough County. Stewart also works with the Citizens Advisory Committee, which will choose a finalist and present their selection to the county commission for approval.

The committee will decide on a finalist at its regular meeting scheduled for late February. The county commission will then consider the committee's decision at its March meeting, with an official presentation to follow.

Samuels has three sons and a wife, Lillie. He is a survivor of both prostate and throat cancer, and recognizes the blessings in his life. "I got married after I got diagnosed. There is life after prostate cancer, trust me," Samuels said. "The good Lord sent me a wonderful mate who is right by my side and helping me in all that I do."

For more information about the Florida Prostate Cancer Network, visit www.florida-prostate-cancer.org or call 813-806-2800.

 

 


 

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