At the most recent A Conversation with a Living Legend event, $5.2 million was raised to benefit the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, while former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Colin Powell were recognized. The event took place at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. for the Performing Arts and the proceeds will be used to support the Moon Shots Program.
The $5.2 million funding will help continue the work developed within the Moon Shots program, which focuses on decreasing cancer-related deaths through several initiatives, such as a pilot program to accelerate innovative pancreatic cancer research. The president of MD Anderson, Ron DePinho, MD, highlighted the progresses the program has made in advancing the fight against cancer, a result of “early transformative philanthropy.”
“We’ve made lifesaving advances, but our work is far from done,” stated DePinho, according to a press release from the cancer center, which works with patients from all over the world. “History will write that our generation addressed a humanitarian crisis with courage and compassion, with resolve and research, with ingenuity and intensity. The challenge is ours to conquer. The responsibility is ours to fulfill.”
He also expressed his gratitude to the over 650 participants in the event for helping them offer a new hope to cancer patients. “Your generosity drives our world-class research momentum and, ultimately, will help improve the lives of patients and their families for generations to come. Our success will be our generation’s greatest legacy — our greatest gift,” said Dr. DePinho.
In addition, MD Anderson’s president recognized the chair of the institution’s Board of Visitors (BOV), Mel Klein for his leadership work, and the former President George H.W. Bush for the work conducted throughout a decade, during which he served in the same position currently occupied by Klein. “I’d like to express our gratitude for his leadership, his continued service and his unwavering dedication to Making Cancer History,” he said.
The chancellor of the University of Texas System, admiral Bill McRaven, was also present at the event, where he portrayed the institution as the “crown jewel” of the system and honored former President Clinton and General Powell, for their wide accomplishments. “If a general can become a statesman, if a president can become a philanthropist, perhaps a retired admiral can become an educator,” said McRaven.
A Conversation with a Living Legend began with the national anthem sung by MSG Caleb Green (Ret.), emceeded by the “CBS This Morning” co-host Norah O’Donnell, closed by the oldest collegiate a cappella group in the world, The Whiffenpoofs of Yale, and was followed by a seated dinner in the Kennedy Center’s Hall of States and Hall of Nations.
Edwina and Tom Johnson of Georgia, Beth and Wayne Gibbens of Virginia, Diane and Paul Begala of Virginia, Marlene and Fred Malek of Virginia, and Donna and Mack McLarty of Washington, D.C., served as chairs of the event, while President and Mrs. Jimmy Carter, President and Mrs. George H.W. Bush, President and Mrs. George W. Bush, Mrs. Ronald Reagan and the Honorable and Mrs. James A. Baker, III were honorary chairs.