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Record $3 million raised for Siteman cancer research

Special guest comedian Dana Carvey at the Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital’s annual Illumination Gala benefiting Siteman... Special guest comedian Dana Carvey at the Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital’s annual Illumination Gala benefiting Siteman Cancer Center. This year's event raised a record-breaking $3 million for cancer research.

Cancer research in St. Louis took a giant leap forward, thanks to a record-breaking $3 million raised by donors June 18 at The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital’s illumination Gala. This year’s total was the most ever raised at the illumination Gala or at any other one-night fundraiser in St. Louis.

The annual gala, held at The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis, benefits Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. Actor and comedian Dana Carvey was the special guest this year.

Dollars raised at the gala support the Foundation’s Cancer Frontier Fund, established by Bill and Amy Koman to speed research breakthroughs at Siteman that will lead to new ways to prevent and treat cancer.

Some especially significant contributions helped push illumination’s fundraising total to a record level: Jack C. Taylor and the Crawford Taylor Foundation gave $500,000 to the Cancer Frontier Fund. Donations from Ambassador Sam Fox, Marilyn Fox, and the Fox Family Foundation at illumination totaled $450,000. Marilyn and Sam Fox gave in memory of their son, Greg Fox, who passed away from pancreatic cancer earlier this year. Greg was actively involved with Barnes-Jewish Hospital and its associated organizations.

“We’re grateful to be the recipients of such incredible generosity,” says Tim Eberlein, MD, director of the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center. “Because of support from people such as the Foxes and the Taylors and others in the community, we can conduct the vital research necessary to move us to the next level of cancer prevention and treatment.”

Since 2010, the Foundation has supported nearly 50 research projects at Siteman through the Cancer Frontier Fund. These projects pave the way to find better treatments for a variety of cancers, as well as to develop new techniques to provide more individualized treatment.

“Our patients are counting on us,” Dr. Eberlein says. “That’s why we’re working so hard to bring better treatments to patients faster. Research support is essential to making that happen.”

illumination Gala co-chairs were Diane Sullivan, CEO, president and chairman of Caleres, and Tad Edwards, chairman, CEO and president of Benjamin F. Edwards & Co. Presenting sponsors were Caleres and Catherine and Tad Edwards.

“Many of my family members, co-workers and friends, including my best friend, have been touched by cancer,” Sullivan says. “Because of them, I wanted to be part of illumination. It’s an exciting time in cancer research but there’s much more to be done. We’re so grateful to the generous donors at the gala who are pushing this research forward faster.”

Edwards’ uncle was in the audience at the gala three years after being diagnosed with a late-stage cancer. “When we came to Siteman for care, the team exuded hope,” Edwards says. “Thanks to the research and treatment breakthroughs at Siteman, more people like my uncle are living happy, healthy lives. To have one of the best cancer centers in the world right here in St. Louis is a gift to all our families. Together, our support is making a tremendous difference.”

One of the videos at the gala focused on a young breast cancer survivor. Erica Griffin was diagnosed at age 30, treated at Siteman, and is running strong eight years later. Griffin and her 12-year-old daughter, Katie, spoke at illumination. “The research done at Siteman has allowed me to be here to see my children grow up,” Griffin says. “Siteman saved my life and saved my children’s childhood. I want to thank everyone who donates to cancer research so our children don’t have to go through what some of us have.”

Next year’s illumination gala to benefit cancer research at Siteman is planned for June 3, 2017.

About Siteman

Siteman Cancer Center is an international leader in cancer treatment, research, prevention and community outreach. It’s the only cancer center in Missouri to hold the prestigious Comprehensive Cancer Center designation from the National Cancer Institute and membership in the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. The NCI gave Siteman the highest possible rating—exceptional—in cancer research and programs. Siteman’s parent institutions Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine also are consistently ranked among the best in the country.