It was late January of 2004 and Bob and his wife were celebrating her 50th birthday in an oncologist’s office. During a routine physical his primary care physician discovered that his WBC’s (white blood cell) counts were elevated. So off to the oncologist - where he learned that he had Leukemia, more specifically, Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. As scary as it was, he learned over time that if you’re diagnosed with leukemia, “CLL” is the best one to have.
Then in february 2010 on the advice of both his primary care physician and oncologist, he was having an endoscopy because of difficulty swallowing. “Not to worry” he was told they’ll scope you and dilate your esophagus and you’ll be better than new. Well so much for that procedure. When he woke up and asked how everything went there was silence. His wife was called and they sat down to meet with the doctor in his office. He entered the office, greeted them, and began to explain that he found a tumor. “Well why didn’t you cut it out while you were down there?” Bob asked. Now try to understand that Bob was a man who thought that Leukemia was like a bad case of the flu six years ago. So just like that, he thought that tumors were just removed with a scalpel, laser beam, whatever. Now those dreadful words, “I’m sorry, it’s cancer.” Cancer… oh no, not me, no way!
Since January 2004, Bob has had to learn to live with CLL. He has learned through the Leukemia Lymphoma Society of Connecticut how to be a four time leading fundraiser by sailing in regattas. Two time Leukemia Cup winner as well as two time chairman. He has learned what it feels like to undergo chemo therapy and have the skin burned off your esophagus from twenty eight fractions of radiation therapy, also how to be involved in your care and seek out the best treatments available.
Now at sixty two, Bob says, “I’m learning how to live. How to live in gratitude for the life I have and the chances I’ve had. Despite all the pain and agony I had to endure, I am in remission! So now it’s my time to give back and help others who are not as lucky as me, a two time cancer survivor” hence, Bob is the founder of Sails Up 4 Cancer (SU4C)!
Tom P. Bell, MD FACS; Vice President
Tom did his medical training in Texas and then came to Connecticut to sail and to begin his surgical practice of 28 years, retiring in 2010. In addition to his private practice, he was involved in medical education with appointments at Yale and the University of Connecticut. He was the founding director of the local Hospice, continuing for 15 years. He was also the founder of the South Coast Vascular Society and participated in the American College of Surgeons at the state and national levels serving in many positions and continues as a site reviewer for trauma centers nationwide. He was selected as a top surgeon for Connecticut Magazine numerous times and was elected to the prestigious New England Surgical Society. Tom worked as an officer of the American Cancer Society and has been active in many local charities and continues to work closely with Mystic Seaport. He has gone on medical missions to Kenya and to Haiti after the earthquake. He is an avid cruising sailor with too (yes too) many boats; the pride and joy a wooden Alden Cutter built in 1956 that he does all the work on. Tom has sailed worldwide especially enjoying Greece, Croatia and New Zealand. Tom looks forward to continuing to give back and is excited about his role with SU4C.
Shannon Cavanaugh - Treasurer
Shannon Cavanaugh brings over 30 years of business experience to our team. Coming from 15 years with an international franchise organization, Shannon brings a vast array of business experience with her including; project management, sales development, marketing, event planning, strategic planning and graphic design.
For over 25 years, Shannon has been running teams and projects from start to completion, working with clients, vendors, franchisees and executives.
Shannon has recently relocated from Dallas, TX but is a longtime visitor to Mystic. She loves cruising on her brother's boat "Crystal Slipper" and hanging out with sailors. She also switched over from being a Dallas Cowboys fan to being a Patriots fan as soon as she moved here.
Karen Davis - Executive Secretary
Karen was born and raised in Charleston, WV. After graduating high school Karen studied business administration at Morris Harvey College in Charleston, and has worked as an administrator for various types of organizations since that time.
She lived in Japan for five years where she was employed by the department of the Navy in a social services position and later in an administrative capacity by the Navy’s real estate contracts division. In 1990 she left Japan and moved to Rhode Island, where she met Bob and they were married in 1991.
She has held a Connecticut real estate license since 1995,and for the past 14 years has worked in the field of property management in Connecticut.
She enjoys cruising Long Island Sound with her husband, Bob, the founder and CEO of SU4C. She has supported Bob during his fundraising activities and chairman positions with the CT chapter of the Leukeimia Society. More importantly she has been his advocate and administrator during his struggles with two cancers, as well as with her younger brother, Walter, who lost his battle with brain cancer in march of 2010.
She is a member of Mystic Fleet Corinthians, Mystic Mudheads, and Mystic River Yacht Club.
Joanie Joplin - Director
Joanie Joplin joined us last year and is now a member of the board for SU4C. She is a retired school principal with 32 years of experience in Connecticut Public Education. As a teacher and administrator, Joanie advocated for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. She volunteered with various organizations to ensure children and families were given proper nutritional and medical services and worked with local Women's shelters as well as Connecticut Big Brothers Big Sisters. She also worked to improve educational programs for children with disabilities, helping parents to better understand their rights in the public school system. Joanie brings a vast array of administrative experience to the SU4C team. She is a leader in collaborative decision making with a vision to refine projects and enhance the development of programs to ensure success. She joins as she has felt the devastating loss of her father to cancer 25 years ago, and the loss of her mother, who died five months before him, most likely of a broken heart. She is committed to helping to raise money for cancer research and to help families in need as they combat the disease with their loved ones.
Russ Kramer, F, ASMA - Director
Today, Russ Kramer is widely regarded to be among the country's leading marine artists. His large-scale studio paintings create 'first-hand' experiences for the viewer, putting you right on board during some of history's greatest yacht races or turn-of-the-century luxury vessels. A sense of the dramatic moment, combined with meticulous research and attention to detail, have found considerable appeal and sell quickly into private and corporate collections. His works are unique and immediately recognizable, combining narrative, historical, figurative and maritime disciplines.
Russ has been the subject of a one-man show at the Museum of Yachting in Newport, Rhode Island, appeared in WoodenBoat, Yachting, and Sail magazines, and will be prominently represented in the forthcoming volumes, Art and Artifacts of The America's Cup by Hyland-Granby. He is a Fellow and serves as the current President of the American Society of Marine Artists.
He has won multiple awards at the Mystic International Marine Art Exhibition, including the prestigious Yachting Award in 2009, 2010 and 2011. He is represented by the Maritime Gallery at Mystic Seaport, the J. Russell Jinishian Gallery in Fairfield, CT and Sheldon Fine Art in Newport, RI. Russ is instrumental in heading up Canvases for a Cause.
Sails Up 4 Cancer Inc
23 East Main St / PO Box 623
Mystic, CT 06355
SU4C.ORG / FEIN: 27-5553950