TAMPA, Fla. (January 15, 2021) – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once noted, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” The American Cancer Society (ACS), the NFL, and the Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee are bringing new attention to the problem Dr. King addressed nearly 55 years ago through the Forever 55 legacy program. This new health equity partnership will benefit patients and families in Tampa Bay.
Under the Forever 55 Health and Wellness and Families pillars, the effort will provide the Community Health Centers of Pinellas $30,000 to increase the number of cancer screenings they are able to complete amid the pandemic. The latest grant expands funding previously given to the Community Health Centers - along with Tampa Family Health Center - as part of the NFL’s Crucial Catch program, which has raised more than $22 million since 2009, and since 2012, has shifted to specifically support health equity initiatives.
In addition, the Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee has donated $120,000 to ACS’ Tampa Hope Lodge program. The lifesaving donation will allow ACS to restart that vital service in 2021 (when the pandemic subsides and it is medically safe to do so), helping those living in Tampa Bay counties who are impacted by cancer but lack the resources to fight it.
“Proper screening and early detection are crucial to cancer treatment, but access to necessary services is often more difficult for underserved communities,” said Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee Chief Operating Officer Claire Lessinger. “Through this program with the American Cancer Society, we hope to help eliminate barriers to cancer prevention and treatment for Tampa Bay families, and help support those impacted in their fight against this disease.”
“COVID-19 had an alarming impact on cancer screening rates and was responsible for a 90% drop in certain cancer screenings. The pandemic has only further exacerbated the challenges that so many in our community experience,” added Sheri Barros, American Cancer Society, Strategic Director for Global Sports Alliances. “At the American Cancer Society, we firmly believe that no one should be disadvantaged in their fight against cancer. The generous contribution by the Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee and the NFL will help us close the disparity gap experienced by communities of color.”
Across the United States, wide gaps in healthcare are persistent, influenced by inequities related to race and class. Inequitable access to good jobs and insurance, high-quality schools, affordable homes, nutritious food, and reliable transportation have proven to be factors in disproportionate health access during Dr. King’s era and now.
Did you know:
- Black women are 40 percent more likely to die of breast cancer than white women and are twice as likely to die if they are over 50.
- Prostate cancer death rates in Black men are more than double those of every other racial/ethnic group.
- Cancer is the leading cause of death among Hispanics, accounting for 21 percent of deaths.
- People in the most impoverished areas have approximately 20 percent higher cancer death rates than those in the most affluent.
- About a third of Black women reported experiencing racial discrimination at a health provider visit.
The joint effort between the American Cancer Society and the Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee is part of a larger commitment by the Forever 55 legacy program. The newly-established six pillar program infuses $2 million in funding to programs that meet critical community needs, leaving a lasting and transformative impact and empowering us to move“Forward. Forever. Together.”