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Susan G. Komen's “Honoring the Promise” Gala Honors Those Leading the Way to a Cure(2)

Cancer survivors Bob Schieffer of CBS News and Zoraida Sambolin of CNN host event that raises over $1.5 million for breast cancer clinics and programs in the Washington, DC area.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sept. 20, 2013 – Susan G. Komen® tonight paid tribute to leaders in the fight against breast cancer at its fourth annual “Honoring the Promise” gala at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The inspirational event raised over $2 million for Komen’s breast cancer programs both internationally and in the Washington, D.C. region, an area with the second highest mortality rate from breast cancer in the nation.

Longtime CBS correspondent Bob Schieffer and CNN morning host Zoraida Sambolin—who recently returned on-air after undergoing a double mastectomy for breast cancer treatment  - co-emceed the evening’s program, which featured performances by legendary R&B group Kool & The Gang, The Swon Brothers (The Voice), iLuminate (America’s Got Talent) and Julia Murney (Broadway’s Wicked).

“At Susan G. Komen, we don’t make donations, we make investments,” said Nancy G. Brinker,
Founder and Chair of Global Strategy for Komen.  “Thanks to the three-quarters of a billion dollars we have invested in just research alone, we have virtually conquered early stage breast cancer and are now closing in on the aggressive forms of the disease that kill 40,000 American women and men each year.”

Olympic figure skater Dorothy Hamill, actress Fran Drescher and Washington Redskins wide receiver Josh Morgan also participated in the evening’s program held in the Eisenhower Theatre, sharing with the over 1,000 attendees their personal connection to the cause as cancer survivors.

Mrs. Victoria Reggie Kennedy and the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy were the recipients of this year’s Betty Ford Lifetime Achievement, presented to them by the daughter of the award’s namesake, Susan Ford Bales, and Senator Patrick Leahy and Mrs. Marcelle Leahy. The Kennedys were honored for their leadership in increasing access to health care and prioritizing the need for personalized care and new technologies in medicine. During his 46 years in the Senate, Sen. Kennedy became defined by his dedication to social causes and fought for the rights of patients up until his death in August 2009.  

“Health care was the cause of Teddy’s life,” Mrs. Kennedy shared about her late husband while accepting the award.  “And like he did with every issue, Teddy was always looking forward.”

In addition to the Betty Ford Lifetime Achievement Award, additional Honorees for Awards of Distinction included:

For Scientific and Medical – Komen Scholar Olufunmilayo I. Olopade, MD, FACP.
An international leader in cancer genetics, Dr. Olopade seeks to identify those at risk for breast and ovarian cancer earlier in life, intervene aggressively, reduce risk, and thereby more effectively control cancer. She studies familial forms of cancers, molecular mechanisms of tumor progression in high-risk individuals as well as genetic and epigenetic factors contributing to disparities in cancer outcomes in diverse populations. She is an expert in cancer risk assessment and individualized treatment for the most aggressive forms of breast cancer, having developed novel management strategies based on an understanding of the altered genes in individual patients. She stresses comprehensive risk reducing strategies and prevention in high-risk populations, as well as earlier detection through advanced imaging technologies.

For Global Leadership – The Caterpillar Foundation (accepted by Kathryn Karol, Vice President of Global Government and Corporate Affairs for Caterpillar, Inc.)
Founded in 1952, the Caterpillar Foundation has contributed more than $550 million to help make sustainable progress possible around the world by providing program support in the areas of environmental sustainability, access to education and basic human needs. Since 2011, the Caterpillar Foundation has supported the efforts of Komen in Brazil, Mexico and Panama to improve early detection of breast cancer and save lives by increasing awareness, strengthening screening services, and removing barriers to care.

Honoring the Promise celebrates those who have helped to fulfill the promise set in motion over 30 years ago when Komen Founder 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 Komen in 1982 in her sister’s memory. Since then, the organization has donated more than $2.2 billion towards research, education, community programs and international assistance, second only to the government as the world’s largest private funder of breast cancer research.

Kennedy Center Chairman David Rubenstein served as founding chair for the event. The night was chaired by Jane Abraham and The Honorable Spencer Abraham, alongside honorary chairs The Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates and Mrs. Abeer Al Otaiba, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Rep. Dave Camp, Sen. Susan Collins, Rep. John Dingell, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The evening gala was co-chaired by The Honorable Ben Barnes and Melissa Maxfield.