It took a while but the Miami-Dade County Commission finally got around to recognizing the work of a group of dedicated South Floridians who promote cancer awareness and research.

Although Cancer Research Month was observed last May in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, it was on Jan. 10 that the Miami-Dade County Commission recognized the work of the group known as the Pap Corps.

The commission’s vice chairwoman, Audrey M. Edmonson presented a plaque to members during a meeting of the Internal Management and Fiscal Responsibility Committee held at the Commission Chambers in the Stephen P. Clark Center, 111 N.W. First St. in downtown Miami.

“Without people contributing funds to research, the cause of cancer and ways to prevent it, thousands of women and men would not be here today and leading healthy lives,” Edmonson said.  “We know that more strides need to be made.  However, we are grateful that individuals, organizations and communities are working together to raise funds to end this often deadly disease.”

According to its Web site, the corps started in 1952 when a handful of women organized a support group for the Dade County Cancer Institute to raise money for the early detection of cancer through research, cytology and education.

At the time, the famed cancer specialist Dr. George Papanicolaou was conducting research on cancer detection at the Institute and the women picked him as the recipient of their financial support. In  1960, he was named director of the Institute which soon was renamed the Papanicolaou Cancer Research Institute and shortly after that, the support group became the Papanicolaou Women's Corps.

Now known as The Pap Corps, Champions for Cancer Research, the organization has more than 21,000 volunteers, including men, in more than 50 chapters in the three counties.

Over the past 60 years, the group was has raised some $39 million – more than $29 million in the last 10 years. Edmonson commended the work of Pap Corps members in the tri-county area.

“The Pap Corps has been considered as a champion of cancer research because it has organized more than 21,000 volunteers, helped create more than 50 chapters throughout Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties and donated more than $39 million for cancer research. We thank and celebrate the Corps for its great contributions,” she said.


HONOR FOR PAP CORPS: Miami-Dade County Commission Vice Chairwoman Audrey M. Edmonson gets ready to present a recognition  plaque to members of the Pap Corps honoring their service over 60 years.