Harrison County

Scuba Steve is joining forces with a Coast group to give back to cancer survivors

Steve Johnson, better known as Scuba Steve, is back home in Gulfport after undergoing surgery in New Orleans on March 8 to remove cancerous tumors. Now cancer free, the Pink Heart Funds announced Wednesday that Johnson has been added as the non-profit’s president.
Steve Johnson, better known as Scuba Steve, is back home in Gulfport after undergoing surgery in New Orleans on March 8 to remove cancerous tumors. Now cancer free, the Pink Heart Funds announced Wednesday that Johnson has been added as the non-profit’s president. amccoy@sunherald.com file

A charity that helps adults and children who are battling cancer just added a Coast icon to lead it into the future — oh, and he’s a cancer survivor, too.

Pink Heart Funds voted unanimously on Monday to add “Scuba” Steve Johnson as its next president. He replaces JoAn Cupp Niceley as president, although the non-profit’s founder will stay on as a member of the board of directors.

“Everybody knows Scuba Steve. I’ve known him for a while from all the festivals and T-shirts,” Niceley said Wednesday. “I started praying last year that I wanted somebody who could feel passionate about this. It took all this time, but one day I was just like, it’s gotta be Steve.”

Niceley said Johnson, who the Sun Herald named one of the Coast’s top newsmakers of 2017, is a perfect fit for the nonprofit, having battled colorectal cancer from 2015 until 2017.

“I always feel like if you have had cancer, you can relate more to what we’re doing,” Niceley said, adding Johnson also breaks a stereotype she feels her nonprofit has faced since being founded in 2005. “I also wanted someone who had a different type of cancer. So many people think the Pink Heart Funds is all about breast cancer, but we help people battling all kinds of cancer.

“I just feel like having Steve is going to be a major asset.”

For two years, South Mississippi watched as Johnson fought cancer and the community repeatedly came up big to help the T-shirt designer cover medical expenses.

Pink Heart Funds is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides wigs for children and adults with hair loss disorders, including those who are receiving cancer treatments. The charity also provides women with free breast prostheses and post-mastectomy bras.

The nonprofit hosts a number of events, with the next one being the Walk of Hope at 8 a.m. Oct. 13 at the Long Beach Town Green.

Pink Heart Funds was dealt a colossal blow in 2016 when $235,000 had been stolen from the organization’s bank account. Melinda Rosetti-Spence, who served as the nonprofit’s treasurer, goes to trial in the case April 16.

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2326, @PatrickOchs

How to contact Pink Heart Funds

▪ Call 228-575-8299

▪ Visit www.pinkheartfunds.org

▪ Email pinkheartfunds@gmail.com

▪ Visit Pink Heart Funds on Facebook

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