The Friends of the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center celebrated their 10th anniversary of supporting cancer programs at Christiana Care’s Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute during an inspirational gala Oct. 5 at the Wilmington Country Club.
The Celebration of Hope gala raised more than $335,000, helping the Friends eclipse the $2 million mark in funds raised during their decade of helping Christiana Care’s nationally recognized cancer center. Nearly 400 loyal supporters of the Graham Cancer Center attended the gala.
Founded by Carroll M. Carpenter, chair of Trustees for Christiana Care Health System, the Friends is a group of more than 60 volunteers who work in cooperation with clinical staff to advance hospital initiatives that benefit patients.
“The Friends of the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center have been invaluable to the cancer program,” said Nicholas J. Petrelli, M.D., Bank of America endowed medical director of the Graham Cancer Center. “Without their support, many of our programs and technologies would not have been possible. Their generous philanthropic efforts help our patients to receive cutting-edge, high-quality care.”
In its early years, the Friends raised funds to buy a CyberKnife, a robotic radiosurgery system that delivers beams of high-dose radiation to tumors with extreme accuracy. The group also supported a special needs fund that helps patients with medication, transportation to and from appointments, supplies and nutrition counseling. Today, the Friends actively support research into new therapies for cancer under way at The Center for Translational Cancer Research at the Graham Cancer Center.
During the gala, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell spoke about how the Friends and the employees of the Graham Cancer Center comforted him and his wife, First Lady Carla Markell, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2005.
“When Carla was diagnosed with breast cancer, we didn’t know what to do,” Gov. Markell said. “But we were fortunate to come as a patient and a husband to the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center and to be the beneficiaries of the phenomenal treatment and approach by Dr. Petrelli and his team.”
The governor bequeathed Dr. Petrelli with an Order of the First State, the highest honor the governor can grant, in recognition of his leadership of the world-class Graham Cancer Center and his efforts to expand access to the highest quality cancer care to Delawareans. The governor also issued a proclamation designating the date of the event — Oct. 5, 2013 — as Carroll M. Carpenter Day to honor the founder of the Friends for her leadership in raising awareness and funds to treat cancer.
“It’s extraordinary what the people here are doing to transform the lives of others in this state and country,” Markell said.
“I want to thank the community for their incredible work over the past 10 years,” Carpenter said. “I also want to thank the younger generation as they continue to lead this effort … The best thing you can do in life is create something that outlives all of us.”
Funds raised through the gala support The Center for Translational Cancer Research at the Graham Cancer Center, where researchers are exploring innovative and effective ways to treat cancer by applying basic science discoveries to the development of new therapies for the disease.
“We are all touched by cancer, either directly or indirectly, and we need to work together to support our loved ones who face this disease,” said Penny Saridakis, Friends co-chair. “We are delighted to partner with the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute to continue to help patients access excellent care close to their homes.”
The Friends co-chairs also include Amanda Friz, Anne Martelli, Diane du Pont, Maureen Rhodes, Karen Kimmel Legum and Elisa Morris.
Photo gallery: Celebration of Hope
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