Cancer Gets Personal at the illumination Gala

In 2013, The Cancer Frontier Fund, supported by illumination, funded research on developing vaccines to prevent breast cancer, personalized vaccines to fight melanoma, a drug to reduce a life-threatening side effect of bone marrow transplant, a genetic test to prevent over treatment of oral cancer, and other groundbreaking projects.

Cancer got personal at The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital’s annual illumination Gala held in April. More than 500 guests at The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis, raised a record-setting $2.1 million for cancer research at the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The total was the most ever raised at illumination specifically for the Foundation’s Cancer Frontier Fund. The Cancer Frontier Fund was created to help researchers at the Siteman Cancer Center accelerate research breakthroughs that will change the face of cancer.

Award-winning actor, writer and comedian Martin Short was the special guest at the gala. In addition to his comedy performance, he shared his personal connection to cancer with the audience. His wife, Nancy Dolman, died of ovarian cancer in 2010. Short also lost his mother to breast cancer when he was a teenager.

Gala co-chairs Danny Ludeman, former president and CEO, Wells Fargo Advisors, and Joe Stieven, president and CEO, Stieven Capital Advisors, L.P., led community support for the illumination Gala this year. Wells Fargo Advisors and Stieven Capital Advisors were presenting sponsors of the gala, which included a cocktail reception, dinner, luxury auction, Fund-A-Cure, and Short’s performance.

Danny calls donors as well as his family and friends who have fought cancer his heroes. “Cancer touches far too many of our loved ones. Everyone at the event clearly understood the urgency of supporting breakthrough cancer research at Siteman so we don’t lose more of our loved ones to this awful disease. Their generosity was overwhelming.”

Fellow co-chair Joe Stieven says he was moved by the emotional, personal stories shared at illumination. “The diagnosis of cancer is devastating for families. Fortunately, lifesaving treatment based on leading-edge research is available at Siteman. That’s why I’m so thrilled by the outpouring of support. Cancer research took a giant step forward thanks to our generous donors at illumination.”

The dollars raised for the Cancer Frontier Fund are already making a difference in cancer care, says Tim Eberlein, MD, founding director of Siteman. “On behalf of the nearly 55,000 patients we treat at Siteman annually, we’re so grateful for the support of the Cancer Frontier Fund through the Foundation.

“This fund allows us to study the newest ideas that have the greatest promise. For example, through gene sequencing, we have been able to create personalized cancer vaccines that use the patient’s own immune system to fight his or her cancer. This could have huge implications for patients with breast cancer and melanoma, initially, as well as many other cancers in the future.”

The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital has made more than 30 Cancer Frontier Fund grants worth $5.7 million since 2010. “We award grants to innovative research that would not necessarily receive funding through traditional channels,” says Kenneth H. Suelthaus, board chair for the Foundation. “We look for game changers. The Cancer Frontier Fund gives Siteman researchers the resources that turn clinical trials into treatments. And it’s all possible because of the generous St. Louis community.”

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