The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center hosted a star-studded tribute event honoring James A. Baker III in an effort to raise money for the Center’s dynamic Moon Shots cancer research initiative, which in the past has garnered considerable funding from private donations. The event, which was part of A Conversation With A Living Legend series and moderated by Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer — himself an MD Anderson patient along with his wife — raised an impressive $4.5 million for the Moon Shots Program, which was held at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. In addition, NBC News special correspondent Tom Brokaw served as an emcee for the event, and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger formally introduced Baker.
The connection between Baker and MD Anderson is a natural one, as Baker is a native Houstonian and longtime supporter of cancer research. MD Anderson president Dr. Ronald DePinho awarded Baker the Making Cancer History Award at the event, which honors those to strive to make difference in the lives of others through caring, integrity and discovery. For his part, Baker has continuously served on MD Anderson’s Board of Visitors since 1974, a tenure that speaks to the longstanding, well-established relationship that exists between The Baker family and MD Anderson, which in fact originated more than 70 years ago, when Baker’s grandfather, Capt. James A. Baker provided temporary quarters for the institution on his estate.
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Dr. DePinho lauded this long-standing, multi-generational support, which has been faithfully continued with Baker III:”Your continued support of MD Anderson has remained steadfast, even throughout the demands of your many years of public service,” adding, “You’ve remained a loyal member of the institution’s advisory board over the years, while leading five presidential campaigns for three presidents and serving as secretary of state under President George H.W. Bush, secretary of the treasury under President Ronald Reagan and White House chief of staff for Presidents Reagan and Bush.”
In addition to the named mentioned above, the event also boasted other impressive attendees, including all living former U.S. presidents and first ladies, who attended as honorary chairs, as well as former cabinet members who were acknowledged as honorary co-chairs. Also in attendance among the 750 people who attended the event were MD Anderson’s Board of Visitors members Tom Johnson and Wayne Gibbens, Edwina Johnson, Beth Gibbens, Rose and Harry Cullen, Robert Day, Susan and Donald Evans, Lyda Hill — who herself has donated $50 million to the Moon Shots program — Norma and Harry Longwell, Peggy and Lowry Mays, Charline and Red McCombs, Kit and Charles Moncrief — whose foundation recently pledged $5 million to cancer research in Fort Worth — and Alice and David Rubenstein, who also gave the opening remarks for the ceremony.
President Obama was invited to the event but did not attend, instead contributing a video greeting and tribute.
Photo from http://www.utexas.edu