By Pat Young
For Hometown News
When Debbie Callahan is not busy selling real estate at Adams Cameron & Co., Realtors, of Daytona Beach she is coaxing smiles from seriously ill children and many adults, too, as "Trouble the Clown."
It all began 23 years ago when she was reluctant to visit a terminally ill friend in the hospital, so she chose to visit him as "somebody else," namely a clown. In a colorful costume, with a wild wig, face paint and padding in strategic places, she sashayed into his hospital room and was rewarded with laughter and his comment," Here comes trouble." The name stuck, and she says she has been "clowning around ever since."
Yet for the Port Orange resident, clowning partners with a much deeper mission. She has been a "cheerleader" and team captain for "Realtors Sold 4 the Cause," the American Cancer Society's "Making Strides Against Breast Cancer" annual walk in October. Trouble also cheers walkers and runners on at the beginning, middle and end of the spring event.
This has been an annual endeavor for her since 1993, when she learned Adams Cameron CEO and President Bob Adams would park his car midway and drop out of the walk. She donned her alter ego outfit as Trouble and walked the five miles with Adams so he wouldn't quit. Adams Cameron has been active in the Cancer Society walks for many years, in memory of Adams Cameron matriarch and founder Helen Adams, who passed away at age 86, and was one-time president of the American Cancer Society.
Trouble has become a familiar sight on the cancer walks. Hundreds of photos by fans have documented her effervescent presence. Ms. Callahan says everyone knows Trouble, but only her clients and co-workers know Debbie Callahan the Realtor.
But the Daytona Beach Area Association of Realtors knows Ms. Callahan well. She earned the Realtor of the Year award in 2010. In 2001 and 2008 she was honored with the Community Service Award. She also received a Special Merit Award in 2009 for all of her volunteer efforts.
Come Christmastime, Ms. Callahan dons her other alter ego as "Trouble the Elf" and delivers toys donated from all over the area to seriously ill children whose families live below the poverty level. Twenty years ago she suggested the toy donation to Adams Cameron & Co. "to share a smile with someone else." Ever since, Adams Cameron has collected toys at their annual Christmas party for the cause.
"It's just one of the wonderful things we do," she said. "It reaches well beyond Adams Cameron."
Trouble the Elf helps Santa Claus deliver the toys to Children's Medical Services. Trouble herself donates at least a dozen bicycles, but she said people all over the area contribute hundreds of toys to the cause.
Ms. Callahan said she really enjoys clowning "because of the smiles you bring to people's faces."
She said her biggest satisfaction is just making people smile, no matter what the season. She summed up her years of "clowning around" by saying, "I personally get by giving."