Hosted by NBC’s Hoda Kotb, Event Honors First Lady Betty Ford with performances by Natasha Bedingfield and Denyce Graves-Montgomery and Miri Ben-Ari
WASHINGTON, D.C. – October 28, 2011 – Susan G. Komen for the Cure® tonight paid tribute to global leaders in the fight against breast cancer, including the late Betty Ford, at a star-studded event at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for the second annual “Honoring the Promise” gala.
Breast cancer survivor Hoda Kotb, co-host of NBC’s “Today,” program, emceed the evening’s program which featured performances by singer Natasha Bedingfield, Grammy Award-winning violinist Miri Ben-Ari, opera singer Denyce Graves-Montgomery, aerial artist Amanda Topaz and Howard University’s premier vocal jazz ensemble Afro Blue.
Hollywood stars Kerry Washington, Donald Faison, Jennifer Beals and breast cancer survivor Vanessa Bell Calloway joined with friends of Komen from inside the Beltway – MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, FedEx Corporation’s Gina Adams, Danaher Corporation’s William H. King and philanthropist Annie Totah – to present the evening’s Awards of Distinction in five categories.
Honoring the Promise celebrates those who have helped to fulfill the promise set in motion 30 years ago when Komen Founder and CEO Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would do everything in her power to end the disease that claimed Susan’s life. Brinker founded Susan G. Komen for the Cure in 1982 in her sister’s memory.
“Tonight, we honor the promise made to my sister to do everything possible to help develop and deliver the cures for breast cancer to those who need them,” Brinker said in her speech. “As the founder, CEO and the sister of the woman who inspired this movement, I am proud to celebrate the gains we’ve made, even as we face the great challenges ahead.
Susan Ford Bales accepted the Lifetime Achievement award on behalf of her late mother, First Lady Betty Ford, for Mrs. Ford’s candor and courage in shattering the stigma of breast cancer after she publicly discussed her breast cancer diagnosis in 1974.
Honorees for the Awards of Distinction are:
• For Scientific and Medical – Charles M. Perou, Ph.D., head of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Lineberger Cancer Center and recognized for his work identifying subtypes of breast cancer;
• For Advocacy - Ellen V. Sigal, Ph.D. for her work to accelerate cancer research and public policy, as chair and founder of the Friends of Cancer research organization;
• For Community - Sandra M. Swain, M.D., medical director of the Washington Cancer Institute, and project director of the Breaking Down Barriers program to reach medically underserved women in the National Capitol Area, and
• Global Leadership - Sarah Brown, wife of former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, for her work for women and children.
“The collective achievements of these honorees have significantly improved our understanding of breast cancer, identified new treatments, and built a global community looking out for the needs of women and men facing breast cancer,” Brinker said.
A special reception before the event honored women in media who have courageously and publicly shared their personal battles with breast cancer. NBC’s Kotb was awarded the Rebecca Lipkin Award of Media Distinction, named in memory of the ABC News producer who lost her battle with breast cancer in 2009. The Women in Media committee is chaired by Jennifer Griffin of FOX News Channel and is made up of CNN foreign affairs correspondent Jill Dougherty, political commentator Laura Ingraham, ABC’s Robin Roberts, Reuters correspondent Deborah Thomas, NBC’s Anne Thompson, MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell and W*USA-TV news anchor Andrea Roane.
Kennedy Center Chairman David Rubenstein, along with his wife Alice, served as founding chairs for the event alongside honorary chairs the Ambassador of the State of Kuwait and Mrs. Salem Al-Sabah, Senator Scott Brown and Gail Huff, Representative John Dingell, the Honorable and Mrs. John Engler and Senator Joseph Lieberman. The evening gala was co-chaired by Jane and Spencer Abraham, Deborah Dingell, Ginger and Stuart Pape, Hadassah Lieberman, Marlene and Fred Malek, Susanna and Jack Quinn, Anne and John D. Raffaelli, Vanessa and Thomas Reed, Vicki and Roger Sant, Linda and Acie Vickers and Young Professionals Chairs John Pearson III, Kiki Ryan and Ashley Taylor.
In one generation, Komen has forever changed the way the disease is talked about and treated, touching every medical advance in the fight against breast cancer. Susan G. Komen funding has helped deliver more accurate screening technologies, targeted therapies and an increase in relative five-year survival rates from 74 percent in 1982 to 99 percent for early stage breast cancer today – an increase reflected in the faces of the 2.6 million breast cancer survivors alive in the U.S. today. Last year alone, Komen funded 700,000 breast screenings to the poor and uninsured and grew research funding to $685 million, the largest contribution to breast cancer science outside of the federal government.