Bill and Doreen Dean have long been committed to helping combat cancer—and to bringing in their neighbors and friends to join the cause, as there is much to do. According to the American Cancer Society, Florida is second only to California as the state with the highest estimate of new cancer cases expected this year.
As longtime seasonal residents of Marco Island, the couple has been entrenched in the Marco Island American Cancer Society. Aside from significant financial contributions, they have spent a decade fundraising for the cause, while making personal connections to support those afflicted with the disease. The Deans also often volunteer to take cancer patients to their treatments—and those are among the most poignant moments, especially when there’s a win.
“A friend of ours had lung cancer and she went through the chemo and radiation and it was a great day when she told me she is free of cancer,” Bill says. “She was in tears and by the time I got off the phone I was in tears. It’s just a great feeling.”
A casual stroll on the beach in 2004 led the Deans to first become involved with the Marco Island ACS, after learning about a beach-walk fundraiser. They stepped up to participate, and never looked back.
This year, the couple received the Grado Award, which recognizes service and commitment to the American Cancer Society. “My mother passed away from cancer when I was 15,” says Bill, a part-time Marco Island resident since 1997. “I remember those days, the misery and pain she went through from lung cancer. It stuck with me and I thought, if we’re going to raise money for a group, let’s make it the American Cancer Society.”
In the Hideaway area of Marco Island, where the Deans live during season, Bill and Doreen have been entrenched in the Hideaway Chips Away at Cancer committee. As committee chairman, Bill led fundraising efforts that resulted in raising a total of $1 million for the nonprofit. In 2009, he joined the board of Marco Island ACS. This year he retired from the board and the committee, but the couple remains active in the charity.
“It’s a great feeling to be able to help people and know the programs the American Cancer Society sets up are funded by what we do—and hopefully funding a lot of research to try and kill this disease,” says Doreen, who lost two aunts to cancer. “It has been very rewarding.”