Cancer gala raises money, awareness

Hundreds of benefactors convened in the lavishly decorated National Building Museum’s Great Hall Saturday evening to raise money and awareness for GW’s expanding efforts in cancer research.

The fourth annual GW Cancer Institute Gala raised money that will go toward a media campaign, promoting prostate, breast and colorectal cancer awareness and treatment.

The Cancer Institute, an affiliate of the GW Hospital and the GW Medical Faculty Associates, aims to bring preventative programs, outstanding patient care, advanced research and education to the D.C. community.

“It’s energetic to be with all of these people who have been touched,” said honoree Margaret Bush, who received the Spirit of Life award.

As part of GW’s 20-year Campus Plan, which has recently gained approval from the D.C. government, the University plans to install a new state-of-the-art cancer research facility on campus to coordinate groundbreaking research in the field. Plans for the institute’s new home await funding and final approval of the design by the D.C. Zoning Commission.

With initial approval of the plans to build the facility, fundraising is important now more than ever, proponents said.

“We want to make this cancer initiative different than others,” said John “Skip” Williams, GW’s provost and vice president for Health Affairs.

Through traveling programs like the Mammovan, a mammogram testing vehicle, the Cancer Institute works to make treatment accessible and affordable. Patients who are diagnosed but cannot afford medication can receive free services through GWCI as well.

“This is our opportunity to celebrate our accomplishments, and honor patients and special people,” said Steve Patierno, executive director of Cancer Institute

Ray Michael Bridgewater was honored with the Cancer Compassion Award and Connie Mack, a former congressman from Florida, and wife Priscilla Mack received the Cancer Advocacy Achievement Award.

The first lady of Panama, Vivian Fernández De Torrijos, was the recipient of the Distinguished Public Service Award.

Although the total profits from the night are still being tallied, the gala is expected to have large returns due to a $350 entrance fee, a silent auction and $100 raffle tickets.

This year’s silent auction featured prizes such as airline tickets from Dulles Airport to a European destination of choice, limousine service and a personal training session.

Almost all of the more than 400 attendees lingered close to the auction tables, drinks in hand, to view or bid on the many prizes.

“It’s always about money,” said Williams. “Money and prestige. It shows that George Washington is interested in helping eliminate cancer in our community.”

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