SARASOTA - We are very excited about a new segment we are starting today: "The Amazing Women of the Suncoast." Our first amazing woman is Bambi Famous Kaine.
Bambi received the Courage Award from the American Cancer Society. She has overcome tremendous adversity with grace and dignity and a deep commitment to fight with every bit of her strength to make this a better world for others.
She grew up in Harleysville, Pennsylvania and went into nursing. "I moved down here with Merck Pharmaceuticals and was an executive pharmaceuticals rep here in Sarasota for 15 years." She had two beautiful children, Katlin and Dane, married a handsome doctor, then tragedy struck.
It all started when she lost her father. "He actually died on 9/11, of cancer. Nine months later, Katlin was killed. She was a junior at the University of Florida, and she and her best friend – she was also her big sister in the sorority – and two other boys from UF; they were actually traveling to Bonnaroo, which is that big music festival up in Tennessee. An 18 year old boy pulled on the interstate and didn’t see them and hit their truck."
To ease her pain, Bambi memorialized Katlin by helping others. “I started the scholarship foundation; so that was a big thing that really helped me, because it made me focus on something positive for other young women. And I knew that I just needed to make something positive out of the tragedy."
Then she discovered she had breast cancer. "It was so rapid that I needed to have a double mastectomy and go through 5 months of chemo, and total reconstruction. I got really involved with the American Cancer Society, and that really helped me. I found out about Making Strides for Breast Cancer and I thought ‘I’m going to do that walk’...and I did, the first week of chemo. I remember sitting in the hospital thinking ‘I am not going to let this beat me’."
And it certainly hasn't beaten her. She founded a mentoring program for high school girls in honor of Katlin, and raises money to help other community groups. She won the Community Aids Network's Dancing With Our Stars competition.
And by the way, she is now cancer-free.
And her advice to others going through great pain? "You have to laugh and persevere and see the beauty in simple things in life. My biggest mantra is that it’s all about the memories, and creating memories. Because no one can ever take those away from you."
Bambi is just the first amazing woman in what will now be a weekly segment here ABC 7. If you'd like to nominate an amazing woman, we'd love to hear from you. Just send us her picture and tell us why you believe she deserves the title “Amazing woman of the Suncoast”. The email address is email@example.com.