SunSmart raises funds, provides skin cancer screenings

Runners wearing sunglasses, a dab of sunscreen and a visor will join Sebastian the Ibis for the SunSmart 5K Run/Walk.

Students in the Miller School of Medicine organize SunSmart to help raise awareness about skin cancer and public access defibrillation, the process of applying electric currents to the chest wall or heart during medical emergencies such as a heart attack.

SunSmart will be held at 8 a.m. on April 13 at Crandon Park. Participants can register and donate online. The early registration fee for a UM student is $15, and the same-day student fee is $20.

Last year, 700 participants attended SunSmart and raised about $10,000. Proceeds collected benefited skin cancer research at the Miller School as well as a program called Team for Life, which places Automated External Defibrillators in public locations throughout the Miami area, said Joe Kaplan, a first-year medical student at Miller.

“SunSmart promotes overall wellness by getting active through running,” Kaplan said.

Kaplan organized the SunSmart runs while he was an undergraduate student at UM. The event was formerly called the Golden Key 5K Gets SunSmart.

According to Kaplan, the event used to be less difficult to organize because he would receive funding from the Student Activity Fee Allocation Committee (SAFAC). Without SAFAC, Kaplan is trying to find sponsors that provide prizes for participating in the run.

“It has been a huge blow,” he said. “We’re working to make SunSmart an official organization at the Miller School.”

Despite its reduced funding, SunSmart continues to be a nonprofit organization that is completely student-run.

Kaplan hopes to move forward from this “transition year” and have SunSmart recognized by the beginning of next year in order to access funding that Miller allocates to its student organizations. The organization is currently part of a dermatology interest group.

This year’s SunSmart will feature special guests such as the Miami Heat Cheerleaders; Pascal Goldschmidt, dean of the Miller School; and Sebastian the Ibis. Miller School dermatologists will also attend and provide free skin cancer screenings in private booths. According to Kaplan, 150 to 200 screenings are performed each year and doctors have identified potential cancerous growth at prior SunSmart events.