We put together a slideshow of photographs to give a glimpse inside the Abramson Cancer Center’s (ACC) first “Philly Fights Cancer” fundraiser, but perhaps the best picture of the night was snapped Ellen-Degeneres-at-the-Oscars-style on an iPhone during the program. “Everyone get ready," said Tracy Davidson, NBC10 anchor and emcee for the night, alongside Jeff Hammond, a professional fundraising auctioneer. “Ok, here we go.” And with that, Philly Fights Cancer got its first crowd selfie.
Over 1,000 people came out to support the ACC at Legacy Youth Tennis and Education in East Falls on Saturday. Faculty, staff, donors, friends and more enjoyed cocktails and dinner, speakers featuring ACC leadership, committee chairs, including Madyln and Leonard Abramson and event co-chair Nancy and Richard Wolfson, patients, and entertainment.
The night was a mix of remembrance, laughter, acknowledgements, some tears, more laughter (Jim Gaffigan, who was part of the night’s entertainment, killed it) and music by Grammy-winning singer-songwriter legend Carole King. “Thank you for everything you do,” she said to the audience before launching into some of her greatest hits, like “You’ve Got a Friend.”
The event raised $3.5 million, which will support translational research and clinical trials at the ACC.
Richard Vague, the event’s honorary chair, took the podium to acknowledge the vast achievements of the ACC, as did Lori Alf, a multiple myeloma patient of Edward Stadtmauer, MD, chief of Hematologic Malignancies, whose cancer is in remission after receiving chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) therapy. The investigational personalized immunotherapy also saved the life of one of the event’s youngest attendees, Emily Whitehead.
Amy Gutmann, PhD, president of the University of Pennsylvania, and Chi Van Dang, MD, PhD, director of the ACC, took the stage to thank everyone for their hard work and the crowd for their support.
“I went to high school with Chi,” joked Gaffigan, who came on after Dr. Dang spoke. “And he cheated off me all the time.” The crowd was all smiles through the rest of the evening.
Davidson, a breast cancer survivor who was treated at the ACC, also shared her experiences on being in a room filled with lifesaving physicians, researchers, and other key ACC staff. Check out her blog post, as well as the video the ACC played during the night, a reel highlighting the various programs, cutting-edge technology and approaches to cancer care, discoveries and patient voices, reminding everyone why it’s so important to support research efforts. Despite all the progress and hope, funding for research that will push the next generation of cures remains scarce, and philanthropy is a key.
As promised, below are some pictures from the Philly Fights Cancer event.
Penn Medicine thanks Madlyn and Leonard Abramson and family and the Philly Fights Cancer Committee for their support.