Cancer Survivors Star in Spectacular Sylvester Fundraiser
Nearly 600 people filled the Moore Building in Miami’s Design District on Wednesday night, November 11, to celebrate survivorship and raise more than $250,000 for research at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. The fundraiser, “Designed For a Cure” centered around a dozen Sylvester patients escorting their doctors and nurses down the runway. As the evening wrapped up, every person was on their feet clapping and cheering the stories of survival that were highlighted during the evening.
W. Jarrard Goodwin, M.D., director of Sylvester, who was escorted by his patient, Trudi Pollack, described the evening as “a celebration of success.” In addressing the crowd, which peered over railings three stories high, Goodwin noted that the 250 physicians and scientists at Sylvester work with technicians and nurses “tirelessly each and every day to further research and end the human burden of cancer.”
The inspiring event was chaired by Jennifer Stearns Buttrick, of Stearns, Weaver, Miller, Weissler, Alhadeff & Sitterson, P.A., who says she “learned in a personal way the importance of an academic medical center.” Buttrick was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2006, just two days after giving birth to her third child. She considers herself the “beneficiary of visionaries” who created a comprehensive cancer center in South Florida so patients don’t have to leave the area to receive the best medical care possible. Buttrick was the perfect person to lead this event, having walked the runway herself, two years ago.
Among the guests who attended was State Representative David Rivera, ® District 112, who Dr. Goodwin recognized as a “great friend of Sylvester.” Chair of the Sylvester Board of Governors, Joan Scheiner thanked everyone for their continued support of Sylvester, despite a turbulent economy. A cancer survivor herself, Scheiner beamed at the tremendous show of support at “Designed” and noted that it’s especially important for donors to continue to help scientists achieve their goals of “making miracles happen.”
“Designed For a Cure” was Sylvester’s signature fundraiser held this year, and similar to the 2007 “Party in the Park” event, where former patients were also featured as “models” for a unique fashion show. This year, the historic Moore Building’s three-story open-air space was created as the stage for the event. Attendees were greeted by a ground-floor reception and then moved to the second floor where tastings were provided by more than 30 prominent restaurants and caterers, such as 3030 Ocean, Blue Door at Delano, Chef David Schwadron Catering, Soyka, Sra. Martinez and Timo. Lavish drinks were provided by Southern Wine & Spirits.
The backgrounds of the “model” survivors are as varied as their diagnoses — from a CEO, to a filmmaker, a designer, a model and trainer, philanthropist and even a University of Miami Miller School physician. The women were dressed by the Worth Collection, Ltd., while Perry Ellis fashions were worn by the men. Throughout the evening, each of them displayed triumphant smiles.
Alan Livingstone, M.D., professor and chairman of surgery, said “this is what we do. This is what makes it gratifying.” Dr. Livingstone used the words “grace under pressure” to describe his patient, Cindy Davis Carr. Carr was a longtime supporter of Sylvester, even attending the groundbreaking ceremony and serving as Honorary Chair for four Sylvester In the Garden Galas, before she became a patient herself.
The evening featured a silent auction with items donated by Tiffany & Company, Cartier, New World Symphony, Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino and Hermes. There was also a touch of star power as the master of ceremonies and Miami resident, David Frankel, director of the hit movies Marley & Me and The Devil Wears Prada emceed the fashion show.
“Designed For a Cure” served as the venue to present the inaugural Jay Weiss Physician-Scientist Award, given to someone with a proven record of transformative leadership and discovery in cancer research. The late Jay Weiss, a former chairman of the Sylvester Board of Governors, was committed to building a community of support for South Florida’s only academic-based cancer center and helping the county’s poorest residents access medical care. The award was presented to Joyce Slingerland, M.D., Ph.D., F.R.C.P.(C), director of the Braman Family Breast Cancer Institute at Sylvester, who said she was very honored. Dr. Goodwin described her as the ideal choice because of “her passion for research and compassion for her patients.”
The words ‘compassion,’ ‘grateful’, ‘dedication,’ and ‘celebration’ were heard among several conversations as patients related their personal stories and the hope they gained at Sylvester. Carla Hill, a two-time breast cancer survivor and former Miami Dolphins cheerleader, said her treatment and the evening’s event were affirmation that “there is good in the world.”