x
Breaking News
More () »

Tampa Bay and Sarasota's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Tampa Bay and Sarasota, FL | WTSP.com

After beating cancer, mom vows to fight pediatric cancer through golf

Connie Jo Russo started a foundation to keep kids healthy. Two of her kids died from cancer in 2020. She's hoping to raise $50,000 for cancer research.
Credit: Connie Jo Russo

PALM HARBOR, Fla. — Connie Jo Russo has always been into fitness but only recently got into golf

"I’m pretty good," she said. "Valspar is awesome."

The Valspar Championship takes place just a few yards from her backyard. The mother of a 15-year-old lives near the Innisbrook resort -- site of this week’s PGA Tour stop.

"We’re just always so welcome to have them here," said Russo.

Yet, she’s much more excited about the golf event she’ll be hosting on May 15 just down the road in Clearwater. Russo, the founder of Superfit Kidz in 2008, will host a charity event at Cove Cay to raise money for pediatric cancer research. All donations will be given to Johns Hopkins.

RELATED: A Pediatric cancer survivor started baking during treatments in hopes of opening her own bakery

Superfit Kidz is an outreach aimed at keeping kids active and healthy. Russo’s golf event was inspired by two kids from her foundation who lost their lives to cancer in 2020.

"Jackson Abernathy, 15-year-old died from sarcoma cancer and Andres Hernandez-Vasquez, he passed away at 14 years old last year from a cancerous brain tumor," she said. "With all this cancer stuff, the big fear, the cancer word, it just motivated me to help children and families who battling pediatric cancer."

Another reason this mission to fight pediatric cancer has become so important to her is due to her own breast cancer battle. Russo found out she had cancer on Christmas Eve 2019 and later had surgery in February 2020. She then found another tumor on Mother’s Day 2020 before having surgery again on June 12.

"I had two cancer surgeries and it was very difficult. Very scary," said Russo, who came to Florida from New York in 2015.  

RELATED: Back To Bright mural unveiled days before Valspar Championship

That is why she says she can’t sit back and do nothing to help people fighting the disease. She just happened to choose golf to do it.

"It’s a wonderful beautiful sport," she said, with Valspar banners waving behind her just past the security fence. "It’s a great way to help our children most importantly. That’s what it’s about. We have to help our children."

The charity golf scramble is an 8 a.m. shotgun start on Saturday, May 15 at Cove Cay. To register, visit the Superfit Kidz foundation website.

Superfit Kidz is a local non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization assisting the needs of children of all ages, according to its website. Superfit Kidz foundation was established in 2008 as a nutritional awareness and exercise program that promotes a healthy lifestyle through unique physical activities and fitness charity events. Superfit kidz both manages, implements and sells signature programs targeting children and families, organized youth groups, accredited schools, healthcare professionals, fitness facilities and health insurance companies. Superfit Kidz has pioneered a fitness program for children of all ages. These children, with reinforcement from parents and role models, must learn a healthy and active lifestyle from the beginning. The partnerships we create facilitate an educational, fun and innovative delivery system of safe and effective exercises for children of all ages.

Connie can be reached by email at Connie@SuperFitKidzFoundation.org.
What other people are reading right now:

►Breaking news and weather alerts: Get the free 10 Tampa Bay app

Stay In the Know! Sign up now for the Brightside Blend Newsletter