More than 800 people and local corporations demonstrated their support for the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center at Saturday’s 10th annual Discovery Ball. Proceeds from the event were raised through new sponsorships and pledge payments on previous multi-year sponsorship commitments contributed $1.4 million (after expenses) that will be used for patient care programs and cancer research at the Wilmot Cancer Center.
A highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Inspiration Award to Jennifer Miller, a Fairport schoolteacher whose story of survival brought tears to the eyes of attendees. She was diagnosed with leukemia while pregnant with her first child.
Miller delivered a premature son, who is healthy today, and endured three years of treatment to bring her disease into remission. She also endured rare complications that eroded her bones and required the replacement of her hip and shoulder joints. A miracle, of sorts, is that she and her husband, Greg, have healthy son, Noah, and their family has grown with the addition of a second child, Ellie. Doctors didn’t expect Miller to be able to have more children after cancer treatment.
The Inspiration Award is presented to someone who offers hope to cancer patients and survivors. Previous recipients include the team of doctors whose work led to the new HPV vaccine, Syracuse University basketball coach Jim Boeheim, late Yankee and McQuaid baseball coach Michael Fennell, retired U.S. Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, and figure skater Scott Hamilton.
The Discovery Ball, chaired this year by Steve and Kim McCluski of Pittsford, is one of Rochester’s largest fundraisers, due largely to corporate support. In the past 10 years, more than $6 millionhas been raised to support cancer research and patient care.
The Wilmot Cancer Center is the region’s leader in cancer care and research. The center is a part University of Rochester Medical Center and has a team of more than 400 doctors, nurses, scientists and support staff dedicated to the single mission of finding cures for cancer.