SEATTLE — Dec. 6, 2009 — A challenge donation from the Bezos family at Saturday's Hutch Holiday Gala boosted the evening's fundraising total to $8.8 million to Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
"Help the Hutch," a portion of the live auction during which guests raise their bid cards for specific contribution levels, brought in $7.9 million to be directed toward the Hutchinson Center's work to harness the human immune system to battle cancer.
The black-tie Gala took place Dec. 5 from 6 p.m. to midnight at the Seattle Sheraton Hotel. The Bezos family asked for unity to advance and broaden the Center's program in immunotherapy to fight solid-tumor cancers.
In November the family pledged $10 million to the Hutchinson Center to advance the promising field of immunotherapy research to treat and cure cancer, even in late stages. The family chose to structure the gift as a challenge in the hope that it will unite others in the community to join the cause. The three-year challenge period kicked off during Saturday's Gala and will extend through Dec. 31, 2012.
Through the years the Center has led the development of immunotherapy, via bone marrow and stem cell transplantation, to help patients win the battle against leukemia and other blood cancers. These advancements greatly enhanced researchers' understanding of the body’s ability to use antibodies, T cells and other immune-system components to fight disease. As a result of their successes, Center scientists believe they are uniquely poised to apply knowledge of the immune system to combat common cancers such as breast, prostate, colon, kidney, ovarian and skin cancer.
Recent discoveries in the Center's Clinical Research Division herald a new era in cancer treatment. An example is the work of Cassian Yee, M.D., who found that infusing patients with their own "helper" T cells could put advanced melanoma into remission. Yee and other Center researchers are now expanding clinical trials that use T-cell therapy to treat advanced tumors.
"We are fortunate that our guests know the power of private support in the fight against cancer," Yee said. "Proceeds from tonight's Gala challenge and auction will help us advance all we've done in the lab – moving it into the clinic to help patients," he said.
Gala patrons also bid on exclusive auction packages including a trip to the Big Apple for the Tony Awards, $11,000.; a trip to French Polynesia to view a total solar eclipse, $14,000.; and an exclusive private tasting and dinner for 12 at Long Shadows and Corliss wineries in Walla Walla, $22,000.
The grand finale was the "Diamond Dash" – a raffle for a 30 second shopping spree at Alvin Goldfarb Jeweler’s store in downtown Seattle. Sue Hansen held the winning ticket and, strapping on a new pair of Nike Flex running shoes donated for the occasion, ran for a pair of diamond-and-peridot drop earrings. "Diamond Dash" raffle ticket sales raised $30,600.
Presented by the Grace Heffernan Arnold Guild and the Hutch Holiday Gala Board of Directors, the Hutch Holiday Gala featured live and silent auctions, an elegant dinner and entertainment with 700 in attendance. Through the years the Gala has raised more than $62 million in support of key research initiatives and patient programs at the Hutchinson Center.
To learn more, visit the Hutch Holiday Gala Web page at www.fhcrc.org/gala and the Hutchinson Center Web site at www.fhcrc.org.
Christi Ball Loso
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, our interdisciplinary teams of world-renowned scientists and humanitarians work together to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and other diseases. Our researchers, including three Nobel laureates, bring a relentless pursuit and passion for health, knowledge and hope to their work and to the world. For more information, please visit www.fhcrc.org.