Sunset Sue

Former Middle Keys restaurateur kayaking for a cause

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Five years ago, Suzy Curry brought a tub of banana pudding to Sombrero Beach.

She was refueling a group of kayakers on their 160-mile journey, from Miami to Key West, in an effort to raise awareness for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life program.

At the time, Curry, now a breast cancer survivor of seven years, was about to retire from her ownership of Stout’s Restaurant, and she told the Castaways Against Cancer group she wanted to join the cause.

“The first year, I did a leg of the trip, 82 miles,” Curry said. “Last year I did the whole thing and I am going to try again this year, but it’s been a tougher year to train.”

Since 2000, the group has raised $1 million for the ACS, making them one of the top relay teams in the nation. On Saturday, June 9, the team of 17 will launch its 19th annual adventure with the mission of helping to find a cure for cancer and honoring those in their fight. The paddle begins from Virginia Key, next to the Miami Seaquarium, and ends at 2 p.m., June 15, at Smathers Beach in Key West.

Curry is originally from Annapolis, but has lived in the Keys for 46 years. She and her husband have been together for 42 years and they operated the popular diner in Marathon for 21 of those. During season that meant waking up at 2:30 a.m. to get breakfast going. No wonder she thinks training for a 160-mile kayak trip is a great way to spend her retirement!

To donate to the cause, part of an official Relay for Life fundraising team, please contact stoutsjewell@comcast.net.

What’s the most difficult stretch along the 160-mile trip? For me, camping on Elliot Key the first night with about a billion hungry mosquitoes.

How long have you been training for this? This year, I started training on New Year’s Day. It was beautiful and calm.

Had you ever done a similar trip prior to when you started four years ago? I kayaked once before with a friend.

What’s your favorite thing about kayaking in general? The peacefulness. I have glided over more sea life and had a dolphin pop up 10 feet in front of the kayak.

What’s your nickname? All Castaways have nicknames. I’m Chiquita, since I made them the famous Stout’s Restaurant banana pudding

If you were to play a strong female lead from any movie, who would you be? We joke on the Castaway trip about who would play us; the guys say, for me, Sally Field.

Best professional advice? For kayaking: enjoy and train. For life: be happy in whatever you do; we don’t get do-overs in life.

Dream meal: you are sitting at a diner counter eating … who walks in and sits next to you? Patrick Swayze.

What is you favorite Keysy thing to do? Watch a beautiful sunset. In my day I was known as “Sunset Sue” down at the old Tarpon Tiki.

What is your advice for women battling breast cancer? Take a deep breath when you get the diagnosis, then get info from all different resources. Breast cancer is very treatable and there are a lot more women out there than we know who fought the battle and are healthy.

Finish these sentences…

If I could choose a superpower it would be … to be able to breathe underwater.

If I won the lottery, I would … buy two plane tickets for somewhere exotic. We love to travel.

My husband would describe me as … full of energy but generous.

My autobiography would be titled … “As the Eggs Fry.” (We always joked about that when we had the restaurant; lots of different “characters” were our customers.)

If stranded on a desert island, I would need … music. If I didn’t have my music to pass the time kayaking I would go bonkers.

When I was little, I wanted to be … a marine biologist.

 

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