\“If Carrie Bradshaw and Erma Bombeck had a love child, it would be me. And I blog.”
Rebecca Madan Kollaras, a Miami Shores public relations executive, namesake of Kollaras Communications, a marketing and communications practice devoted to the Florida hospitality industry, knew how to introduce herself on her blog, Uncommom.com, which featured her “musings of an uncommon mom” posts.
Many of the posts touted charities she supported, like Responsible Charity, which helps the poor in India. Still others, like a November item titled Scrabbled Up Scabs, spoke to the love she had for her daughter Zoe, her only child. That item recounted “the scariest afternoon on record.”
Zoe, age 10, melting Moose Tracks ice cream sliding down her fingers, flexed her independence and zipped by her mother on a bicycle that day while visiting a ranch. Mom warned her to stop so that they could rest before dinner.
Zoe, did we mention, is 10. Sometimes 10 hears Mom’s “Stop” as “OK, go.” Zoe took a spill. Scratches and bruises. She’d be fine. But both mom and daughter were scared — a perfect teaching moment that Kollaras shared with her readers:
“I never want her to have a preview of loss, so drastic it steals the breath from her lungs. Never.
“I want her to listen. I want her to not take chances with her life or mine. That is not negotiable.
“I want her to learn that responsibility is not given, it is earned.”
Zoe lost her mother on April 19 as the two wrapped up a family day at the beach on Key Biscayne. Kollaras, a single mother who had Type 1 diabetes and often wrote about it on her blog and Facebook page, felt dizzy and collapsed. She could not be revived. Kollaras was 45.
“She was just so generous and helpful,” said friend Matt Pack, owner and trainer at Miami Shores’ Primal Fit. “She was very involved with the community and the PTA and with projects in Miami Shores.”
Kollaras wanted Zoe to keep in shape so she worked with Pack to create a Tween Fit program for children between 9 and 12 at his neighborhood gym. She also encouraged Pack to start a program for their parents, Boomer Fit.
“Rebecca was everything to Zoe. They were two peas in a pod,” said Pack who has set up a Give Forward platform to raise funds for Zoe at https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/6vj8/primal-fit-for-zoe.
Kollaras, a Miami native, was born on Sept. 11, 1969. She was a graduate of Gulliver Preparatory School, Loyola University and Barry University. She was the principal at Kollaras Communications, the firm she founded in 2005, and also served as regional director of public relations for Noble House Hotels & Resorts and, most recently, Benchmark Hospitality International, a hotel management company.
She also had flair, perhaps from a career devoted to local tourism and the food and beverage industry. Kollaras, for instance, loved to live Tweet major award shows on Twitter or post about life in general in South Florida.
“I have to go inside now. Too hot. Too much. (Sorry people in cold climates!)” she tweeted on a hot Jan. 15 day in Miami, along with a picture of her “warm weather assistant” — daughter Zoe in a pool, clad in mermaid fins.
“Together they were mermaids in the making, budding authors and travel adventurists,” her family’s obituary read.
For her 1999 wedding to her ex-husband, Zoe’s father Dimitri Kollaras, the Cuban-American Kollaras decided she wanted a wedding at the San Carlos Institute in Key West, a first for the venue.
The florist wanted to cover a statue of Cuban poet José Martí but the bride refused. “We picked this place because of what it means. We wanted José involved. We’ll be getting married right under his pointing finger,” she said in a 1999 Miami Herald story.
In addition to her daughter, Kollaras is survived by her father Rafael Madan, mother Carol Bonner, brothers Gabriel Madan and Dalton Bonner, stepparents Bob Bonner and Denise Madan, and her partner, Greg Oates.
Friends and family are in the planning stages for a celebration of life. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Kollaras’ name to the Diabetes Research Institute.