SEATTLE — Dec. 5, 2016 — The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center raised more than $13 million for research to eradicate pediatric cancers at its Hutch Holiday Gala on Saturday night at the Sheraton Seattle, setting a new record for the annual gathering.
What started out as a small dinner party in 1975 that raised $300 has grown into a multi-million-dollar yearly event. The total raised at the Galas over the last 41 years surpasses $118 million. This year’s contribution total was a new high, thanks to a generous commitment from the Hughes family to match the first $4 million in the Gala’s on-site Help the Hutch donations.
Some 800 people turned out for the 2016 black-tie celebration, featuring dinner and dancing to Kool & the Gang. A live auction during the event brought in $556,500, including a trip for six to the Yellowstone Club, which sold for $200,000.
Dr. Gary Gilliland, president and director of Fred Hutch welcomed attendees. "The words 'you have cancer' are terrifying; that is compounded when it strikes a child,” he said. "Our researchers here work to keep hope alive."
He added: "I've set an ambitious and public timeline. In a decade we should have curative therapies for most, if not all, cancers."
From its early days, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has pioneered cures for children with cancer. The Hutch’s small but dedicated pediatric team has plied the resources and discoveries of our comprehensive cancer center to make a tremendous impact on outcomes for young patients.
But finding cures for pediatric cancer presents a huge challenge: Treatments too often must be based on research involving only adult patients. Regimens used for children have harrowing side effects that can impact survivors throughout life.
While the science of childhood cancers remains far too rudimentary, there is now an unprecedented opportunity to develop more effective and milder targeted treatments. Drawing on groundbreaking progress across the cancer research spectrum, Hutch scientists are poised to break the code of many of the most difficult-to-cure childhood cancers.
There remains, however, a major financial barrier. Funding for pediatric cancers represents approximately 4 percent of the National Cancer Institute’s spending on cancer research. As a result, private support is vital to move ideas to reality.
Gilliland explained that pediatric and adult research happen side-by-side at the Hutch. “It does not happen at most organizations,” he said. "Our programs learn from one another. It remains a key component in our success today.”
Contribution from the Gala will be used to help the Hutch to recruit a world-class leader as its new director of pediatric oncology and to build the infrastructure to deliver more lifesaving therapies for children.
The Gala is hosted by the Grace Heffernan Arnold Guild, a dedicated group of volunteers named in honor of the late Seattle philanthropist and tireless civic leader, Grace Heffernan Arnold, who died of cancer in 1960 at age 62.