Home » Pediatric cancer research gets a $32.2 million boost from Texas-sized disco benefit for Texas Children’s Cancer Center
Philanthropists Lester and Sue Smith stage star-studded event, match every donation
HOUSTON – (Feb. 6, 2012) – A Texas-sized disco dance party was the backdrop Saturday night for a benefit that raised $32.26 million for pediatric cancer research at Texas Children’s Cancer Center, the #1 pediatric cancer center in Texas as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.
A record-breaking fundraiser for the hospital, Dr. David Poplack, director of Texas Children’s Cancer Center, described the sum as “truly transformational” for the center’s pediatric cancer research initiatives, many of which focus on genomic research.
“An Evening with Disco Legends,” presented by Wells Fargo, featured performances by disco greats Gloria Gaynor, The Pointer Sisters and Nile Rodgers and drew over 1,100 supporters to the George R. Brown Convention Center to dance beneath the eight-foot disco ball and roving multi-colored lighting effects.
The benefit was conceived and underwritten by well- known Texas philanthropists and international ballroom dancing champions Lester and Sue Smith, who matched every donation through The Lester and Sue Smith Foundation, making a total contribution of $16.6 million. By underwriting the event, the Smiths enabled 100% of the proceeds to go directly to Texas Children’s Cancer Center.
“We are so grateful to the Smiths for their outstanding philanthropic leadership and to all who supported this remarkable event,” said Poplack, who is Elise C. Young Professor of Pediatric Oncology at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM), academic partner of Texas Children’s Hospital. “We are confident that the cancer research breakthroughs made possible by these funds will positively impact children from around the globe.”
Poplack stated that the monies raised will dramatically accelerate ongoing research projects such as using highly sophisticated genomic technologies to analyze tumor samples from pediatric cancer patients in order to identify the specific genetic mutations responsible for the development and growth of the tumors. “Using advanced genomic analytical approaches, we’re focused on identifying the causes of pediatric cancers, how they progress and why they are responsive or unresponsive to treatment,” he said. “The result of this research, done in collaboration with Dr. Richard Gibbs, director of the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor College of Medicine, will lead to the development of new therapies that are more personalized, more effective and less toxic.”
Texas oilman, two-time cancer survivor and author of the book “You Gotta Dance Like No One’s Watching,” Lester Smith and wife, Sue, are familiar figures in the fight against cancer. This is the Smiths’ second consecutive year to chair the annual Texas Children’s Cancer Center benefit and match all donations. This two-time commitment has generated over $41 million in donations to the cancer hospital, with over $21 million coming from The Lester and Sue Smith Foundation.
Prior cancer-related contributions by The Lester and Sue Smith Foundation include $15 million to Harris Country Hospital District to establish an outpatient cancer treatment facility for the medically underserved and a $30 million challenge gift to BCM for breast cancer and genomic research. The couple is currently donating up to $1 million in matching grants to 30 breast cancer organizations through their Pink Well Challenge (pinkwell.org).
Touted as “Houston’s largest ever disco dance party,” KPRC-TV anchor Dominique Sachse served as mistress of ceremonies for the evening’s festivities across three stages and surprised guests with a special dance performance. New York’s DJ Ultragrrrl spun classic disco mixes for the revelers between each live performance.
The nation’s largest pediatric cancer center, children come to Texas Children’s Cancer Center from 35 states and 26 countries for state-of-the art treatments, many of which are unavailable elsewhere. Texas Children’s Cancer Center is a joint program of Texas Children’s Hospital and BCM and is the pediatric program of BCM’s NCI-designated Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center. To learn more, visit www.txch.org.
About Texas Children’s Hospital
Texas Children’s Hospital is committed to a community of healthy children by providing the finest pediatric patient care, education and research. Renowned worldwide for its expertise and breakthrough developments in clinical care and research, Texas Children’s is nationally ranked in all ten subspecialties in U.S. News & World Report’s list of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. Texas Children’s also operates the nation’s largest primary pediatric care network, with more than 40 offices throughout the greater Houston community. Texas Children’s has embarked on a $1.5 billion expansion, Vision 2010, which includes the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute™, a comprehensive obstetrics facility focusing on high-risk births and a community hospital in suburban West Houston. For more information on Texas Children’s Hospital, go to www.texaschildrens.org. Get the latest news from Texas Children’s Hospital by visiting the online newsroom and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/texaschildrens.
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