October 23, 2009, Vancouver, B.C. - The 2009 Inspiration Gala raised $1.27 million for the BC Cancer Foundation and colorectal cancer research at the BC Cancer Agency last night, as nearly 400 guests dined and donated during the emotion-filled, sold-out event.
The Gala, emceed by CTV news anchor Pamela Martin, was held at Vancouver’s Rocky Mountaineer Station, which was transformed into a winter wonderland by a veteran volunteer committee, co-chaired by Karen Fleck, who lost a close friend to colorectal cancer, and Christine Jennings, whose father-in-law was diagnosed with colon cancer just last week.
The evening included a cocktail reception, formal dinner, live and silent auctions, mystery boxes and a raffle, followed by entertainment from the Vancouver TheatreSports League who were joined by two special guests – both B.C.-born 2010 Olympic hopefuls - ski-cross racer Julia Murray, daughter of former Crazy Canuck Dave Murray, who died of cancer, and bobsleigh team member Steve Larsen, who competed at the 2006 Winter Olympic games in Turin, Italy.
Donations reached the million-dollar mark when Gala guests were challenged to match $500,000 in donations already committed to support colorectal cancer research at the BC Cancer Agency. Donors who stepped up to meet the challenge included TELUS with a $100,000 gift and two colorectal cancer patients who, though absent from the evening’s festivities, donated $50,000 in the hope that their gift could leverage others. Funds from the live and silent auctions and the raffle raised the evening’s grand total to $1.27 million.
BC Cancer Agency medical oncologist and clinical researcher Dr. Hagen Kennecke described passionately how Gala proceeds will fund critical research initiatives at the BC Cancer Agency. “Your donations will make a major contribution towards colorectal cancer research at BC Cancer Agency. Over the past 10 years major progress has been made in surgical, radiation and systemic treatments. But more is needed, as colorectal cancer is still the second most common cause of cancer death in Canada. Our research now is focused on personalizing colorectal cancer therapy by identifying the cancer mutations and subtypes and conducting clinical trials to find targeted treatment for each of them.”
BC Cancer Foundation Board chair John Jennings, husband of Gala Co-Chair Christine Jennings, underscored his thanks to guests for their donations by performing a piano rendition of the Beatles’ tune “With a little help from my friends”, adding, “We are deeply grateful to everyone here tonight for their extraordinary generosity in supporting this underfunded cancer. Through the Inspiration Gala, we have been able to make a significant difference in research and enhancements to care for in both ovarian and brain cancer. And now we have the opportunity to do the same for colorectal cancer.”
Colorectal cancer survivor Brenda Osmond spoke eloquently about her experience fighting the disease and how she had benefitted from clinical trials research. She urged guests to support the cause for all the people who have been affected by cancer, or who may still be, in the future. “I believe the next breakthrough is just around the corner,” she said. “But without your support, we won’t get around that corner.”
According to the BC Cancer Agency, colorectal cancer is the third most common and the second deadliest type of cancer for British Columbians, with an estimated 2,900 new diagnoses and an expected 1,200 deaths from the disease in the province this year.
The BC Cancer Foundation, B.C.’s largest charitable funder of cancer research, raises funds to directly support research and enhancements to care at the BC Cancer Agency, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority that provides a comprehensive cancer control program for everyone in B.C. and Yukon.
Photos available on request
For more information:
BC Cancer Foundation
Interim Manager Communications
BC Cancer Foundation