Inaugural event raises critical funds and awareness, honors community leaders
National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS), the largest, most influential nonprofit dedicated to the brain tumor community in the United States, hosted its inaugural Grey Gala, a national event to celebrate and honor leaders and change-makers in the field of brain tumor and cancer research, recently at the State Room in Boston, Massachusetts. The event, which brought together hundreds of patients, survivors, and caregivers, as well as trailblazers in the area of brain tumor science, research, and public policy, raised more than $260,000. Proceeds from the event will help fund the NBTS’s mission to find better treatments and ultimately a cure for brain tumors.
“At the National Brain Tumor Society, we are privileged to work with, and have the support of, so many dedicated and passionate philanthropists, volunteers, advocates, and brain tumor specialists,” said David Arons, interim chief executive officer, National Brain Tumor Society. “The power and passion of the brain tumor community inspires us, and enables our organization to advance brain tumor research and policy every day. Working together, we know we can accomplish our mission of better treatments and ultimately a cure for brain tumors.”
Jim Lokay of WCVB-TV Channel 5 in Boston served as the master of ceremonies for The Grey Gala, the premiere event of 2015 for the National Brain Tumor Society. Lokay introduced the evening’s program, slate of speakers – including a video message from Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III – and award recipients.
Honored during the event were:
- National Brain Tumor Society’s Founder Award Recipients, Drs. W.K. Alfred Yung, MD and Roger J. Packer, MD. The Founders Awards recognize individuals or laboratories for a transformative scientific discovery, an exceptional body of work, or leadership that has had a significant and sustained impact on the area of brain tumor research. Dr. Yung, chair of neuro-oncology at MD Anderson Cancer Center, was recognized for years of leadership as a renowned clinician and world-class researcher in the adult brain tumor field. Dr. Packer, senior vice president, Center for Neuroscience and Behavioral Medicine, and director of the Brain Tumor Institute at Children’s National Medical Center, was recognized for his work as a leading authority in pediatric brain tumors.
- Boston Celtics legend and NBA Hall of Famer, JoJo White, recipient of a National Brain Tumor Society Community Leadership Award for his courage and determination in the face of a brain tumor diagnosis. Diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2010, White – who continues to work in the Celtics’ front office – has since been committed to raising awareness and funds for brain tumor research, including as serving as the honorary chair for the 2014 and 2015 Boston Brain Tumor Walks.
- Ken Burns, Barak Goodman and Siddhartha Mukherjee, also recipients of a National Brain Tumor Society Community Leadership Award for their documentary film, “Cancer: The Emperor of all Maladies.” The documentary, which appeared earlier this year on PBS, was based on the 2010 Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Mukherjee and was produced by Burns and directed by Goodman. The film has helped to educate countless people around the world about cancer, its treatments, and the patient journey, and raised invaluable awareness and hope for a brighter future.
Additional portions of the evening included a cocktail reception and dinner, live and silent auctions, an overview of the NBTS’ mission and programs by Arons, and speeches from NBTS board of directors’ members Michael J. Nathanson and Cord Schlobohm.
“Above all, The Grey Gala was a clear example of what ‘can-do’ attitudes and approaches will do for the brain tumor community and cause,” said Nathanson, chairman, board of directors, National Brain Tumor Society. “No one can doubt the resolve, ability, capacity, or indomitable spirit of this community. This spirit is critical to meeting our audacious goal of turning brain cancer into a chronic, manageable disease in just 10 short years – and to eventually, eradicate the menace of brain cancer.”
Nearly 700,000 Americans are currently living with a primary brain tumor – including 28,000 children – an estimated 14,000 people will die because of a primary malignant brain tumor this year. More than any other cancer, a brain tumor can have life-altering psychological, cognitive, behavioral, and physical effects. There are no known prevention or early detection methods, and there is no cure.
Further, pediatric brain tumors are the most prevalent form of neoplasm in children and young adults under the age of 19, and the leading cause of death by disease in children under 14. NBTS’s mission is to create systematic change in the way that brain tumors treatments are researched, developed, tested, and approved to accelerate scientific discoveries toward new and effective therapies.
The Grey Gala was presented by the generosity of The Colony Group. Fidelity Investments served as silver sponsors, while New Star Financial provided steel-level support. Pewter sponsors included: Brigham & Women’s Department of Neurosurgery, DelMar Pharmaceuticals, Fiduciary Investment Advisors, Lowenstein Sandler, NICO, Sally Curtin, and Shelia Killeen. In-kind partners were Beantown Swing Orchestra, Garnick Moore Photographers, Goodcopy, Icelandic Glacial, Land Escapes Design, Inc., and PSS MOBILeTY. WCVB-TV was the media sponsor.