For Sandy Paster, team captain of Mission Not Impossible, raising money for American Cancer Society’s (ACS) Relay for Life of East Kendall is a year-round job. The next event, Mar. 9, 2013, marks the Relay for Life of East Kendall’s 15th year, and Paster has been there since the beginning. In fact, she and Jill Jennings were founding members of the ACS’s signature event in Miami-Dade Central.
“The first Relay for Life was held at Tropical Park,” Paster recalled. “We had 11 teams participate and raised $14,000. In 2012, our Relay event had 48 teams and raised our goal of $270,000.”
Miami-Dade County now boasts 28 Relays, all raising money for the same cause.
After serving as chair for a few years of the original Relay, which has now morphed into the East Kendall Relay for Life, Paster co-founded the team Mission Not Impossible in 2002. Since then, Mission Not Impossible has raised more than $237,000 for the fight against cancer.
Paster began her volunteer relationship with the American Cancer Society in 1994 after serving as her father’s caregiver during his battle with melanoma — a battle he ultimately lost.
“It had a profound impact on my life,” she said. “I knew I had to do something to help fight this disease.” Paster has not only helped family and friends battle the disease; she also is a two-time ovarian cancer survivor. Her surgery and treatments in 2005 did not keep her away from that year’s Relay event, was she was welcomed with a banner that read “Nothing is Impossible for Sandy Paster.”
Paster and Mission Not Impossible work tirelessly year-round to raise money for the annual Relay. On Wednesday, Sept. 12, 5- 10 p.m., the group will host Girls’ Night Out at The Melting Pot, located on Sunset Drive near 117th Avenue. The event is open to the public and reservations can be made by calling 305-279-8816.
In addition to hosting fundraising events, team members make and sell platters of homemade baked goods “lovingly made by Mission Not Impossible,” and handmade bracelets made of Swarovski crystals and sterling silver. The team also has published a 365-page cookbook titled Cooks with a Mission, which is full of recipes and tributes. The items are all available for sale at the team’s events and on its website at www.TeamMNI.com
For the last nine East Kendall Relay events, Mission Not Impossible has ranked first in most funds raised by an individual, non-business, team. The team also has consistently placed in the top three for best decorated tent. At events, the group raffles gift baskets, jewelry, makeup, spa packages and gift certificates generously donated by sponsors, while the local classic rock band Deck 52 entertains the crowd.
“Deck 52 has become our signature band,” Paster said. “They are baby boomers, like me, and a few are also cancer survivors. Their support has been so important to our success.”
Paster attributes Mission Not Impossible’s success to the many supporters and sponsors who have joined the team members in their fight against cancer.
“We’re like a freight train chugging along, adding cars, picking up people along the way and building up steam,” Paster said. “It’s important to find something in life that makes you smile every day, and this is one of those things that make me smile.”
Paster has found yet another way to fight cancer. Through the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, she volunteers to speak with local medical school students about the signs and symptoms she experienced prior to her cancer diagnosis. She said the organization is seeking other volunteers.
“Because ovarian cancer is difficult to detect, this knowledge will help the students better diagnose and treat patients,” Paster said.
To learn more about Mission Not Impossible, make a donation or purchase the team’s items to benefit the American Cancer Society, visit online at www.TeamMNI.com