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East County Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020 2 years ago

Lakewood Ranch couple receive cancer foundation honor

Florida Cancer Specialists will honor Bobbi and Dave Norris at Party Under the Stars.
by: Liz Ramos Staff Writer

For Lakewood Ranch resident Bobbi Norris, giving back to her community has been in her DNA.

The same went for her late husband, Dave Norris.

“We were always there if somebody was in need,” Bobbi Norris said. “What could we do to help? That was Dave’s and my nature.”

Together, they created nonprofit Make a Difference Foundation, which provides reading glasses for inmates and has a program where volunteers read to children of incarcerated parents.

When Dave Norris was diagnosed with stomach cancer in February 2015, their ideas of how to give back expanded.

“We decided we really wanted to give something back in this realm of cancer and to caregivers of cancer patients,” Bobbi Norris said. “We came up with the idea that one of the biggest monumental comforts a cancer patient could have during the course of their treatment was to be warm.”

Since then, the couple started raising money for blanket warmers for the Florida Cancer Specialists Foundation. Dave Norris underwent treatment at a FCS Foundation office in Lakewood Ranch, which did not have warm blankets for him to use as he shivered during treatment.

Bobbi and Dave Norris have donated blanket warmers to 10 of the foundation’s 52 locations across the state.

Although Dave Norris died in November 2018, Bobbi Norris continues to raise money for blanket warmers and volunteer for the FCS Foundation.

“Having witnessed firsthand and being part of the regimen that a patient goes through, it’s an incredible feeling of accomplishment to be able to give them something that’s going to put a smile on their face,” Norris said.

For all the work the Norrises have done to help thousands of cancer patients and for Bobbi Norris’ continued volunteerism, the FCS Foundation will honor the couple at its 7th annual Party Under the Stars on Feb. 1 at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota.

“[Dave and Bobbi Norris] are a loving couple that truly has been an inspiration,” said Shelly Glenn, an FCS Foundation board member. “They’re truly go-getters who always have had a positive attitude and always have wanted to do what’s best and right for others.”

The Party Under the Stars event will raise funds to help cancer patients and their families pay nonmedical bills, such as rent, electric and mortgage.

“Sometimes it’s just the day-to-day [expenses] that are the hardest,” Glenn said.

At least 350 people, including Bobbi Norris’ friends and family, will be attending the event to honor the couple.

She was humbled and honored by the FCS Foundation choosing to honor her and her late husband.

“I truly know that Dave will be there with me,” she said.

Norris is looking forward to seeing hundreds of people come together for the same reason.

“When you get 300 people in a room who are all there for the same purpose, it makes you feel like you’re not alone,” she said. “There have been times in these past 14 months that I have felt very, very alone, and to know there are other people out there in the same transitional change that I’m going through and to be able to network and connect with them, you really become a family.”

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