12th Annual Discovery Ball Nets More Than $650,000 for Wilmot Cancer Center

More than 700 attend and show support for local cancer care and research

May 24, 2011

Inspiration Award recipient Richard Bell (second from left ) with financee Marianne Bittner and Bob and Sue Kessler, chairs of the 2011 Discovery Ball

More than 700 friends, patients, staff and supporters of the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center attended the center’s Discovery Ball Saturday, May 21, at the Robert B. Wegman Conference Facility. The annual event is the single largest fundraiser for the Wilmot Cancer Center, providing vital support for the center’s commitment to providing world class care and research to the greater Rochester community and beyond.

This year’s Ball, chaired by Robert and Susan Kessler, was a big success, raising 651,995 for the Wilmot Cancer Center, including more than $150,000 pledged via text that evening to support seed-grants for new and innovative cancer research initiatives. 

“As always, the generous people in our community have affirmed their support for our efforts to bring the very best care and leading edge cancer research to our region, “said Richard I. Fisher, Director of the Wilmot Cancer Center and Vice President of the University of Rochester Medical Center. “We’re extremely thankful for the community’s generosity and trust in us. In a time when government grants are dwindling because of the economics of our times, individual donations are becoming even more important in our quest to achieve breakthroughs in care and research.” 

James P. Wilmot Cancer Center Director Richard I. Fisher M.D., presents the Inspiration Award to Richard Bell.

The Discovery Ball also provided an opportunity for the Wilmot Cancer Center to honor Richard T. Bell, a throat cancer survivor who used his experience as a patient to “pay it forward” and help others facing cancer diagnosis and treatment, with the Inspiration Award. The Inspiration Award is the Wilmot Cancer Center’s highest honor and is presented annually to an individual who has helped cancer patients and their families have hope for the future. Bell was honored for his warm and caring support of a number of other cancer patients.

Gregory Smith, president and chief operating officer for Jay Advertising and a Wilmot Cancer Center National Advisory Board member, recalled his personal experiences after having been diagnosed with throat cancer, and the support Bell provided him.

“Dick and I had the exact same thing (throat cancer) and he knew what I would be going through and took time to explain some of the things he had done wrong as a patient. This guy was awesome, he was so good to me, and it was all without fanfare,” Smith said. “I am not afraid to say I love this guy (Bell). I will never forget the fantastic gift he’s given me.”

The Wilmot Cancer Center is the Finger Lakes Region’s leader for cancer care and research. The center is a recipient of a prestigious SPORE (Specialized Program of Research Excellence) grant from the National Cancer Institute and has cultivated promising collaborative research ventures with other leading clinicians and scientists from across the U.S. Approximately 400 doctors, nurses, scientists and staff provide care for more than 10,000 people each year from the greater Rochester region and beyond. 

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Michael Tedesco
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