Community Voices

Friends and Neighbors: Father’s death from cancer inspires woman to help others cope

Bea Hines
Bea Hines

Watching the pain and suffering of our loved ones makes us feel so helpless. You want to help, but don’t know exactly what to do. Then, all of a sudden it hits you — like a lightbulb turning on in your brain. Perhaps it’s too late to help your own loved ones, but you can help others through their pain and suffering as a memorial to those you lost.

This seems to be what drives Angela Roberts, who in 2011 founded the Hope 4 L.Y.F.E annual 3K/5K Walk/Run.

It was in 2000 as she drove along Interstate 95, Roberts said, that she got the news her father was dying.

“My dad never told me he was sick,” she said, “and on the day before I got the news of his illness, he had been at my house. He left that morning, saying he was on his way to the V.A. Hospital to keep an appointment. When he didn’t come back, I just assumed he had gone back to his house in the Southwest area. The next day, while driving along I-95, I got the devastating news: Dad was dying of stomach cancer. His doctor had put him in hospice right away and it was the people at hospice who called me with the news. I was so shocked, I had to pull off the road because I couldn’t see for crying.”

Roberts said when she asked her dad why he never told her he was sick, he said, “I didn’t want to put that kind of pressure on you.” She was told that her dad had six months to live. He lived for only two more months.

“You hear about how cancer deteriorates a body so rapidly, but to watch it happen is devastating. You just want to help,” she said.

Years later, Roberts was still reeling from the news of her father’s death, when she learned in 2010, a favorite cousin had been diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. “Everything happened so fast. … I couldn’t let another life be lost and not do anything. I just couldn’t. So in 2011, I started the fundraiser.”

She said she got the name for her fundraiser one morning when she woke up and wrote down the words, “hope for life” from her dream. The words later became Hope 4 L.Y.F.E. “That means, ‘Live Your Future Everyday,’ ” she said.

Roberts, 44, is the divorced mom of three adult children: Angenika McNeil, Kristian McNeil and Karoney Oliver. She owns a restaurant in South Dade. In business for herself since 2006, Roberts must pay for healthcare out of pocket. She said the fundraiser will help save lives by taking the worrisome burden off women who skip healthcare needs because of limited finances.

She is in partnership with Community Health of South Florida (CHI), which has helped to provide mammograms for hundreds of women. The nonprofit health center’s radiology department offers a sliding fee scale for the uninsured. Roberts said her organization takes away any financial burden standing between some women and a mammogram.

Brodes H. Hartley Jr., president and CEO of CHI said, “Some women put their own health on the back burner and give priority to their loved ones. Hope 4 L.Y.F.E is a race for those women — to make sure that someone cares for them and gives them access to mammograms.”

Registration for the Hope 4 L.Y.F.E race starts at 6 a.m. Oct. 25. The race begins at 8 a.m. at the Homestead Air Reserve Base Park, 27401 SW 127th Ave. in Homestead. The fee is $25 for adults and $5 for children. The cost for teams of five adults is $100, and sponsorships at the silver, bronze and corporate levels are available.

To register call 305-252-4853 or email

Girl Power anniversary

Congratulations to Girl Power, on its 15th anniversary of “Improving Our World One Girl at at Time.”

The anniversary celebration starts Oct. 10 with an “It Takes a Village” girls summit, hosted by the FIU Undergraduate Women’s Studies Student Association. The free event will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the university’s Biscayne Bay Campus, 3000 NE 151st St. in North Miami.

The celebration continues Oct. 18 from 2 to 4:30 p.m., when the organization hosts “Gospel Brunch Explosion” featuring the Girls’ Choir of Miami with Nicole Henry and Maryel Epps, at Beth David Congregation, 2625 SW Third Ave.

Tickets are $100 each for general admission; $150 for VIP seats that include a reception, an autographed poster, champagne and hors d’ oeuvres. Student admission is $40 with ID.

For tickets and more information call 305-756-5502.

Human trafficking symposium

The Florida National University Hialeah Campus will host a symposium on human trafficking at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 8 at 4425 W. Jose Regueiro (20th) Avenue in Hialeah. The theme is “Human Trafficking Awareness Symposium: Prevention, Apprehension, and Rehabilitation.”

According to a news release, human trafficking, or human slavery, is thriving in the neighborhoods of South Florida. Attendees of this symposium will learn how to identify and report signs of human trafficking in their communities.

For more information call Jessica Quesada at 305-821-3333, ext. 10409 or email her at

Normal vs. abnormal aging

You are invited to hear Dr. David Loewenstein of Mount Sinai Medical Center at 11 a.m. Oct 9 in Cutler Bay as he presents his insights into super aging.

Loewenstein is a principal investigator of a study that identifies ways to detect normal vs. abnormal aging, and will present the latest findings on “Super Agers” from a NIH funded study at East Ridge at Cutler Bay, 19301 SW 87th St. in Cutler Bay.

A professor of psychiatry and behavior sciences, he is director of neuropsychology at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine.

In a news release, Loewenstein describes super agers as people who are in their 80s and 90s with brains and memories that seem decades younger. Recent research suggests older adults who are cognitively active and socially engaged have less chance of developing brain-related diseases. In his lecture, Loewenstein will share recent and ongoing research behind super agers’ successful aging. Some of the study’s participants are residents of East Ridge.

The event is free and open to the public. Call 954-726-9228 for more information.

‘Healing Power of Mindfulness’

Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., a scientist, writer, and meditation teacher will lecture on the topic, “The Healing Power of Mindfulness,” at 5 p.m. Oct. 9 at University of Miami’s Donna E. Shalala Student Center, 1330 Miller Dr. in Coral Gables.

His lecture is presented as a part of the Mindfulness Lecture Series of the Umindfulness Research and Practice Initiative. The initiative is an interdisciplinary collaboration across UM to engage novel implementation and cutting-edge brain research on contemplative training.

In his talk, he will describe his findings in the field and argue that how we consciously interface with the unfolding of our lives from moment to moment, both inwardly and outwardly, can make a huge difference in our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. The evening will include time for practice and dialogue.

Kabat-Zinn is the founding executive director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society, as well as the founder and former director of its world renown Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Clinic. He also is the author of several books including Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness.

Tickets are $15 for students and $25 for general admission. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. To reserve your tickets go to,

St. Francis of Assisi feast day

Sunday, Oct. 4, is the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. To celebrate the occasion and the environment, you are invited to bring your personal pets and “treasured” friends from the animal kingdom on their leashes or in their cages to receive a special blessing with holy water.

While some churches participated in the ritual on Saturday, other churches will offer the blessings Sunday.

Participating churches in Miami-Dade are:

Our Lady of Lourdes Church, 11291 SW 142nd Ave., where a bilingual ceremony will be celebrated at the outside altar at 3 p.m. Call 305-386-4121 for more information.

St. Joseph Church, 8670 Byron Ave. in Miami Beach, will have a bilingual blessing of the animals at 12:15 p.m. near the south side entrance of the church. Call 305-866-6567 for more information.

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Friends and Neighbors, c/o Neighbors, 2000 NW 150th Ave., Suite 1105, Pembroke Pines, FL 33028, fax it to 954-538-7018 or email Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.