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Neena Patel, Olivia Bockler and Allison Davis. Courtesy photo.
Siesta Key Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012 5 years ago

Sarasota teens hope to fight cancer with Ellen DeGeneres

by: Nick Friedman Managing Editor of Arts and Culture

The next Relay for Life isn’t until April, but one group of Sarasota teens is already gearing up to make the cancer-fighting fundraiser an event to remember.

Riverview High School sophomore Allison Davis, along with her team, Sarasota Teens with a Dream, is planning a purple-tie gala (the official color of the American Cancer Society), and they’re extending an invitation to a special guest: Ellen DeGeneres.

Last year, the team invited Dick Vitale to its bowling fundraiser, and it was a success, Davis said. This year, the team was trying to come up with a special guest who would help them continue that success.

“We were all watching TV, and we came up with Ellen,” says Davis. “Every time I watch her show, I think about somebody fighting cancer and how, if they could watch it, it would give them that extra laugh or smile. Sometimes, that’s all you need.”

Davis first became involved with Relay for Life, an annual overnight fundraising event that raises money for the American Cancer Society, five years ago. She says that in her first year, the significance of her involvement didn’t fully hit her until the actual event.

“It hadn’t touched me, personally, until I went to the actual relay,” says Davis. “I met the most amazing people, and hearing the survivors’ stories really inspired me to get involved and try to fight to end cancer.”

Davis and her friends continued to participate each year, building a team of 35 to 40 friends from schools throughout the county.

The Sarasota Teens with a Dream recently put together a two-minute video inviting DeGeneres to attend the gala, and they’ve been doing their best to get the invitation to go viral, in hopes of it catching the attention of the popular talk-show host.

The video features the team members putting their own spin on “dance dares,” a concept created by DeGeneres, in which she challenges viewers to enthusiastically dance behind a stranger in a public setting with no music.

In the video, each team member dedicates his dance dare to someone they know who has fought, or is fighting, cancer, and the video is set to “The Fighter,” by Gym Class Heroes.

“I think it really captures the spirit of a fighter, or someone fighting cancer,” said Davis. “The video is for Ellen, but it’s also for the fighters.”

Even though her goal is a lofty one, Davis says she won’t give up without trying.

“We’ve just been telling everyone we know,” said Davis. “We have a team Twitter page, and we’ve been tweeting Ellen every day. We’ve also sent her emails and video submissions, and we just recently sent a purple-tie shirt to her fan mail.”

Davis says that her team is remaining hopeful in its Ellen endeavors, but that she’s sure the gala will be a success with or without the celebrity guest. Above all, she and her team are excited to help raise money for a good cause.

“Just talking to the survivors and hearing their stories gives me the inspiration to fight back,” she says.

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