World-renowned tenor José Carreras recently held a benefit recital in Seattle in honor of Dottie Thomas' 90th birthday and in celebration of the 25th anniversary of his bone marrow transplant at the Hutchinson Center. The private performance on Dottie Thomas' Sept. 18 birthday was held in the Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall at Benaroya Hall followed by a post-recital dessert reception.
Dottie Thomas is the wife and lifelong research partner of Center Nobel Laureate Dr. E. Donnall Thomas. Both had pivotal roles in the early days of the Center and were instrumental in establishing the Friends of the José Carreras International Leukemia Foundation in 1990, the Seattle-based U.S. branch of the José Carreras International Leukemia Foundation. Carreras started his foundation in Barcelona, Spain, in 1988 to support and promote the research that saved his life a year earlier.
More than 400 people attended the fundraiser, including many current and former Center faculty and staff. Carreras' children and their spouses traveled from Spain to attend, and several of the Thomas’ children and grandchildren were also present. A number of individuals from around the world who could not attend the performance gave donations in honor of Dottie.
As part of a post-intermission presentation, staff and faculty from the Center's early decades were warmly acknowledged and thanked for their part in creating a world-renowned institution. "The feeling of pride in this accomplishment was tangible," said the Clinical Research Division's Dr. Beverly Torok-Storb, treasurer of the Friends Foundation. "One guest, Dr. Sabrina Mandich, said it made her feel like shouting from the rooftops."
The Carreras Foundation shares a common goal with the Center of finding a cure for leukemia. One means of reaching this goal is through funding annual research fellowships for promising young researchers. Several Center faculty members were early recipients of this support from the foundation. The Friends Foundation also endowed the Center's José Carreras/E. Donnall Thomas Endowed Chair for Cancer Research. Dr. Hans-Peter Kiem of the Clinical Research Division was the inaugural recipient of the award in 2009.
Proceeds from the recital will grow the Friends Foundation's endowment for the José Carreras Research Fellowship to provide training at the Hutchinson Center and the José Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute in Catalonia in perpetuity. The first call for applicants is anticipated in January 2013, with fellowships beginning in July 2013.
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