Annual fundraising gala showcases spirit of giving for kidney cancer research

The UT Southwestern Medical Center Kidney Cancer Program transported guests back in time when it recently hosted the Copa Room Gala on Saturday, April 27, at the Dallas Country Club. Spotlighting the glitz and glamour of 1960s Las Vegas, the Rat Pack-themed event proved an amazing night, raising $112,829 for kidney cancer research.

Now in its third year, the annual benefit brings together individuals and organizations that are passionate about supporting the Kidney Cancer Program’s mission to reduce the incidence of kidney cancer and improve survivorship. The evening included a lively cocktail reception, silent and live auction, and musical entertainment by an acclaimed group of Rat Pack impersonators.

One of the greatest performances of the night served as a reminder of why everyone was there in the first place —when acclaimed Dallas Morning News columnist Robert Wilonsky shared the moving personal story of both his and his father’s battle with kidney cancer.

Other highlights of the evening included a special award presentation to prominent local philanthropists and kidney cancer supporters Jane and Andy Geisse for their generous service and selfless dedication. The award was presented by Bill Huber, Chairman of the Kidney Cancer Program’s Business Advisory Committee.

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The annual fundraising gala was passionately born from kidney cancer patient advocates, like former Patient Council member Merlinda Chelette, and continues the rich tradition of support that advocacy has played in research development and patient care at UT Southwestern.

With survival rates doubling national benchmarks, the award-winning Kidney Cancer Program is the resource for sophisticated diagnostics and complex interventions, drawing patients from across the state, the country, and internationally. Through the collaborative and ground-breaking work of UT Southwestern’s research investigators and multidisciplinary clinical teams, the Kidney Cancer Program is fueling breakthroughs and driving change in cancer care.

“We are grateful for the support. For many people it was personal—themselves, a loved one, or a friend affected by kidney cancer,” said Dr. James Brugarolas, Program Director. “The evening was a reflection of the spirit and culture of giving that characterizes our community. I continue to be inspired be the generosity of our community and our advocates.”

Key sponsors for the evening included Globe Life, Frost Bank, and Jane and Andy Geisse.