Jacksonville and Robin Wahby were both much different 20 years ago, when Mrs. Wahby arrived in Florida. The city had no professional football team and all the prominence and economic development that come with that. And Mrs. Wahby -- then Robin Griswold -- was at a different stage in life, with different concerns.
“Back then, no one I knew thought of Jacksonville as a destination, except for people in the insurance industry,” says Mrs. Wahby, a native of Maryland, who came to Jacksonville in her early 20s for a job with New York Life Insurance’s North Florida office. “Everyone I met came here because of a boyfriend or spouse or the military.”
How things have changed. The Jacksonville Jaguars arrived. Mrs. Wahby married, became the youngest managing partner in the history of her company and gave birth to her daughter, Olivia. Health care also became more important to her. She enrolled in the executive medicine program at Mayo Clinic, and, more significantly, she saw two of her close friends battle breast cancer.
“They are both survivors, but I saw what the disease does to people and their families,” Mrs. Wahby says. “It helped me recognize that Mayo Clinic is an incredible resource. One of my friends wasn’t treated at Mayo, but she went there first, to see Dr. Edith Perez. It was kind of funny, actually. Edith told her, ‘You’re not so sick that you need to be treated by me, and that’s a good thing.’ It dawned on me then that we don’t need to travel to get outstanding care.”
A lot more people are realizing the same thing, Mrs. Wahby says. “Maybe it’s a sign that I’m getting older,” she says, laughing. “But now that I’m 43, when I ask people why they came here, they say it’s to be closer to Mayo Clinic.”
Mrs. Wahby and about 200 women golfers are doing their part to ensure that the health care in Jacksonville remains strong. She is the chairperson this year for the Ponte Vedra Women’s Golf Association’s Pink Ribbon Golf Classic. Now in its fourth year, the tournament donates all of its proceeds to Mayo Clinic and to another health care provider in Jacksonville, Baptist Health. Like Mrs. Wahby, the tournament has a personal connection to breast cancer care at Mayo Clinic.
“It was started by three women, all of whom are Mayo Clinic patients and breast cancer survivors,” says Mrs. Wahby, who, when she isn’t spending time with her family or participating in a variety of civic causes, loves to golf and is a long-time member of the Ponte Vedra Women’s Golf Association. “I wanted to serve as this year’s chair to celebrate the breast cancer survivors I know and to help the community fight breast cancer. I love Mayo Clinic, and, at the same time, I think it’s important for all of the community’s health care providers to be outstanding. In talking to the leadership at Mayo Clinic about this, they agreed, and it makes me feel even better about the tournament’s partnership with them.”
The Pink Ribbon Golf Classic to Benefit Women’s Cancer Research starts at 8:30 a.m., Thursday, Oct. 7, at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, 200 Ponte Vedra Blvd., Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Tickets are $125. For information, call (904) 285-4801.