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Casual garb marks event's seriousness

Published May 16, 2007


Jeans signed by the likes of Oprah, Adam Sandler, Betsey Johnson and Janet Jackson will set the theme for an event to raise money for a national organization dedicated to improving the lives of people affected by hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.

The "It's in the Genes" gala and silent auction for Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered, or FORCE, will take place Friday night at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa.

Items to be auctioned also will include a shirt signed by the cast of the TV show The Office, aprons signed by celebrities on the Food Network and a denim jacket signed by Bill Cosby, Reba McEntire and Bill Gates. Other articles have been signed by local celebrities.

The organization was founded in South Florida in 1999 by executive director Sue Friedman and was moved to Tampa two years ago because of a collaboration with the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, said Debbie Sokolov.

The cause is important to Sokolov, who was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago.

"When people ask me what FORCE is all about, I tell them the story of my family explains" it, the Largo resident said.

Sokolov's mother, Marietta Drucker, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer four years ago. Because of that, she and her sister, Judy Ludin, were advised to get genetic testing.

"We both were tested, and we both tested positive for the BRCA gene, " which increases the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer, Sokolov said.

In 2005, Ludin participated in the Breast Cancer 3-Day walk to honor her sister and mother. Later she took preventative measures and had her breasts and ovaries removed. Sokolov and her mother are doing well.

Proceeds from the dinner will help FORCE provide programs, support and information about hereditary cancer. Jeans are the attire for the evening.


FORCE gala is Friday at Florida Aquarium

Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered FORCE annual gala, 7 p.m. to midnight Friday at the Florida Aquarium, 701 Channelside Drive, Tampa.

Nationally acclaimed local band the Conch Critters will perform.

Tickets are $100 for adults and $30 for children 13 and under. Tickets can be purchased at or by calling (727) 871-0366. Call (727) 871-0366 or e-mail

[Last modified May 15, 2007, 23:33:09]

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