Our 2016 Hero of Hope from Guam, Cathy Castro, exemplifies all the qualities of humanity that support our mission. She is courageous, determined, innovative, passionate, empathetic, and caring. Her ACS staff partner, Tina Noket, shares with us some of the amazing work she accomplished this year. (note:edited for size content)
“We have been truly blessed that Cathy was selected as our Hero of Hope, and I hope that you will feel the same way too. In fact, well…I’ll let you form your own conclusions.
Our Relay For Life event has experienced a serious bump in support this year. We attribute this bump to the hard work and dedication of our Hero and the infectious Relay spirit that she has brought to our event. In November 2015, we launched our Paint Guam Purple campaign. Cathy took this campaign and literally ran with it. We met with the Lt Governor of Guam and invited him to take part in the campaign. He graciously agreed, and the Office of the Governor and Lt Governor decorated their offices purple. Large purple ribbons were hung on the gates at the entrance of the property. Other companies did the same, purple ribbons on display both on the property and on the staff. One hotel, which has not been a part of Relay For Life, participated in the campaign with purple décor, but also had their staff members wear purple ribbons. This campaign did not end in November. During our Relay For Life kickoff event, Cathy gave three challenges to our team, one of them being to pick a day and dedicate it as the “purplicious day.” Many teams embraced the challenge and decorated their offices in purple. They also dedicated a day of the week for all staff to wear purple.
She was able to convince our Team GovGuam (combination of over 27 government agencies under the executive branch) to take on the purplicious challenge. Captained and championed by the First Lady of Guam, Ms. Christine Calvo asked each agency to “purple up” their offices and set up dates for her to come by and see the fruits of their labor. The agencies eagerly participated; in fact, the First Lady asked the Lt. Governor to help her with the visits because there were so many. There were many public schools who participated as well as the senior citizen centers. The purple fever touched all ages on our island. Cathy Castro participated in the kickoff events for our Relay Recesses; sharing Andre’s story and thanking our students for all the support and effort they put into making their Relay Recess a success. She was able to get a brand new school to implement Relay Recess this year. All the exposure to purple, and the reason for the purple helped to bring our Relay For Life to a projected net of over $541,000; but her work didn’t end there. If you haven’t already done so, visit our event webpage to see the photos: www.facebook.com/rflguam.
After Relay For Life, Cathy immediately launched full time into her ACS CAN work and led our ACS CAN volunteers to successfully lobby the senators of our legislature to pass Bill 141-33: The Youth Protection Act of 2016, a bill that would increase the smoking age from 18 to 21 and include e-cigarettes as a tobacco product. We met with Senator San Nicolas, who is the chairman of the committee that oversees the youth (the bill was sent to his committee) back in September 2015. At the time, he was holding the bill in his committee and seemed to be reluctant to call for a public hearing on it or put in his support of the bill. But we didn’t leave the meeting empty handed—he offered that if the group was able to get 9 votes, he would be the 10th supporter which would make the bill veto proof. That being said, Cathy made the calls to the senators and set up meetings with each of them (all 15). The purpose of these meetings was two-fold, request for their support in encouraging the public hearing for the bill and of course, their vote of yes to pass it. Additionally, she met with Youth For Youth Guam and was able to get them to take the lead on the youth support for the measure. I would be remiss not to mention that these meetings were held in between her Relay For Life event leadership team meetings. Unfortunately, the Governor vetoed the bill on the last day…but Cathy and her team have met and are continuing to discuss a strategy for an override, so this issue continues on.
This summer, in addition to the advocacy work, Cathy is also engaged in education. She has been sharing Andre’s story with youth attending summer school. These presentations were conducted with members of the NCD (non-communicable disease) consortium. And there are plans to bring this presentation into the school system once the new school year starts.
We are pleased that Cathy will be representing Guam at the ACS CAN Leadership Conference and Lobby Day in Washington, DC in September, and while she’s out stateside, she will also be attending Relay For Life fall conference in Austin.
This really only scratches the surface of the effort that Cathy has put in for the American Cancer Society. For every appointment that was made, every accomplishment that was achieved, there was no less than two hours of phone calls and conversations with folks, at all hours of the day and night. Cathy made herself available to talk ACS and our mission a priority. We can’t think of a way to thank her that would come close to how much we appreciate her.”
Thank you from all of us who are committed to freeing the world from the pain and suffering of cancer.