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Team Tony Cancer Foundation members at the center ribbon cutting are Melissa Ferlazzo, left, development director; Kelly Deam, support program coordinator; Linda Vernon, board member; Lori Kayser, co-founder; Tony McEachern, founder; Angela Long, program director; Art Day, with Day Hagan Asset Management; Shelly Glenn with Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute; Tom Cramer, founding board member and Shaun Merriman with CenterState Bank.

Among local companies contributing to the new Team Tony Cancer Connection Center in Sarasota were PGT Innovations of North Venice, donating premium windows and doors; Michael Saunders & Company, which outfitted the space with computers; Tri-County Air Conditioning, supplying a state-of-the-art air conditioning and venting system; and Sharp, which contributed a 60-inch touchscreen TV.

The nonprofit foundation recently unveiled the new center at 3562 S. Osprey Ave., Suite C, Sarasota, which provides free peer-to-peer cancer support and resources to cancer fighters, survivors and caregivers.

A coffee-shop-style concept offers a safe, warm, supportive and welcoming environment with free resources and educational opportunities to enhance the well-being of those affected by cancer.

Tony McEachern, founder of the Team Tony Cancer Foundation and a 16-year brain cancer survivor, was diagnosed at age 33.

“It would have been helpful to have someone who had gone through the process to offer some insight and inspiration,” he said.

“The center is the first of its kind, and since opening more than 100 people have come through our doors, looking for help and wanting to contribute,” he added. “The community came together to build it and I am so grateful for the support of our mission to help those battling cancer.”

The Werlin Education Center in the center provides space for training, workshops, educational classes, meetings and collaborative sessions with community partners. Visitors can learn about community cancer services and resources or attend a workshop.

Annually, cyclists from South Sarasota County participate in one of the largest fundraisers, the Gran Fondo for the Team Tony Cancer Foundation.

This year the Gran Fondo is on Oct. 6 at Nathan Benderson Park. It’s a family day of cycling, with participants choosing from one of four courses” 100 miles, 66 miles, 33 miles or 8-mile cruiser ride.

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