Local drink honoring sister takes shot at breast cancer
October 23, 2019
KEY LARGO — A sign hanging from the crossbeam inside the Gilbert’s Resort Tiki Bar bears the number 40,469. At a glance, it’s just a number. But to countless women battling breast cancer, it’s much more.
Gilbert’s donates $1 to the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer program from the sale of each drink called the “Boobie.” To date, more than 40,000 of the pink concoctions have been sold.
“What that number really represents is $40,469 that Gilbert’s has so far donated to the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides,” said Suzi Youngberg, American Cancer Society community development manager for the Florida Keys. “This money makes a huge difference in lots of women’s lives by either directly supporting them or helping to find a cure.”
For former Gilbert’s general manager Rob LeBrun, inventor of the “Boobie,” the drink’s name is a lighthearted, Keysey jab at a very personal disease.
“I had just started working there [Gilbert’s] when my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer,” LeBrun said. “She was the inspiration behind it, and it just took off. I asked the owner, Jon Weisberg, who has since passed away from cancer, about donating 50 cents per drink. And he said, ‘Let’s give them a whole buck.’”
LeBrun’s sister, Kim Conley-Utech, lived to see the drink added to the Key Largo bar’s menu before succumbing to breast cancer at the age of 42.
“The menu was out for about a month before she died,” LeBrun said. “She was happy and moved, and hoped that it was going to be very successful. At that point, she knew she wasn’t going to be around much longer. She hoped the drink did well so that more money could be donated to finding a cure.”
The drink has done very well, earning acclaim from regulars and visitors alike. LeBrun, in fact, has photographed a number of celebrities enjoying his signature drink, including Anthony Rizzo of the Chicago Cubs, country musician Brett Eldredge, K.C. Jones of the Denver Broncos and TV judge Alex Ferrer, during their visits to the Keys.
LeBrun, who now runs an Islamorada establishment, said he’s pleased that Gilbert’s still carries the drink and contributes to the cause.
“We tested it out before we put it on the menu,” he said. “It’s got a lot of rum in it and every time you put a different floater on it, the name changes. If there is a Red Bull floater, then it’s called a ‘Perky Boobie.’ ‘Grandma’s Boobie’ is topped with Grand Marnier, because it’s aged. There are all kinds of fun names for them all.”
Gilbert’s now has 15 varieties on the drink to support the fight against breast cancer. The resort tallies the number of drinks sold and writes a quarterly check to the American Cancer Society. A check was presented last Sunday following the Key Largo Bridge Bra Walk, a local Making Strides event.
(A Marathon Making Strides Bra Walk is set for Saturday, Oct. 26, with registration beginning at 8 a.m. and the walk following at 9 a.m. at the Marathon Fire Station, 8900 Overseas Highway.)
Gilbert’s Director of Operations Mitch Maxwell said the bar intends to keep supporting the fight against breast cancer.
“It’s a really good cause, and we do what we can. We all know someone who has been affected by this disease,” he said. “We are over 40,000, and our intention is to keep it going and keeping it rolling.”
Gilbert’s Resort is located at 107900 Overseas Highway in Key Largo.
For more information on breast cancer, visit the American Cancer Society’s website at cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer.