Sylvester family honored at Polo Club luncheon
By: Dale King Contributing Writer
With a mix of emotions, WPTV Channel 5 news anchor Michael Williams told 450 people at a Pap Corps anniversary luncheon in Boca Raton last month how cancer has affected all people and their kin, including his own.
“In every family, there are stories of success and sadness,” he said to an audience of cancer research supporters gathered in the grand dining hall at the Polo Club.
“I think of all of you, marching along the highways and byways, continuing to push back the frontiers to find a cure for cancer. Think of the power of one person multiplied thousands of times over. That’s the Pap Corps.”
The organization, which draws its name from Dr. George Papanicolaou, a pioneer in cytopathology and early cancer detection and creator of the “Pap smear” test to detect cervical cancer, has grown from a small group of women who began the organization in 1952 to support his efforts to a force of more than 20,000 men and women in more than 50 chapters throughout South Florida.
The gala luncheon for the group – now called the Pap Corps – Champions for Cancer Research (www.thepapcorps.org) – also singled out Jayne Sylvester Malfitano’s extensive involvement.
More than 20 years ago, her father, Harcourt Sylvester Jr., pledged $27.5 million to the University of Miami to build a cancer center in honor of his parents. Since that time, Malfitano’s commitment to cancer care in South Florida has deepened. Today, she is vice-chair of the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center Board of Governors.
Since its founding, The Pap Corps has donated more than $110 million to Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, including a historic $50 million pledge in 2016 to dedicate the Pap Corps Campus at Sylvester in Deerfield Beach.
“We are thrilled to be honoring Jayne Sylvester Malfitano at this event,” said the new CEO, David Bakelman. “Her dedication to cancer research has been unfailing and her continuing stewardship of this cause has provided so many with the opportunity to access leading doctors, researchers and treatments.”
“Through their dynamic fundraising efforts, the Corps has become one of Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center’s most vital partnerships and one of the strongest forces for promoting research for all types of cancers.”
Boca Raton City Councilman Robert Weinroth presented the group with a proclamation from Mayor Susan Haynie acknowledging the date of the event, Nov. 10, as “Pap Corps Day” in the city. The councilman commented: “It’s amazing to see this grassroots effort.”
Addressing the applauding crowd, Malfitano said: “Sylvester has given a future to so many. I want to help continue that commitment.” To offer thanks, she quoted a French proverb that says, “Gratitude is the heart’s memory.”
Getting involved has always been a way of life for the cancer fighter. In addition to her vice-chair duties, she is a member of the University Of Miami Board of Trustees, president of the Board of Directors of the Harcourt M. and Virginia W. Sylvester Foundation and past president of the Junior League of Boca Raton.
Pap Corps President Linda Moses explained that “our passion to fight this disease still burns within us.” She also told how the group has realigned its financial structure “so we can continue to strategize plans for growth.”
The event included a fashion show by Neiman Marcus and musical entertainment by internationally known singer Franco Corso. It also featured a video retrospective of the organization’s impact on cancer research during the past 65 years, with emotional comments from those who’ve survived the disease.