V Foundation Finds Silver Linings for Cancer Research
Kristie L. Kahl
Through a showcase of wine, culinary delight and one-of-a-kind auctions, the V Foundation raised more than $475,000 during its fourth annual Virginia Vine event – a gala held at Stone Tower Winery on April 28 in Middleburg, Virginia.
“(Cancer) can be so tragic and so hard, and yet there is a lot of hope in what is going on as well, with respect to new ways to treat, diagnose and even good prevention opportunities on the horizon,” Susan Braun, CEO of the V Foundation, said in an interview with CURE. “For us to be able to show both how to help people remain aware that cancer is so very prevalent in our society and yet, that there is progress being made every day. Then, you can do that best by communicating in different ways to different audiences in different venues.”
Through these fundraising efforts, each of the Virginia Vine mission partners – Inova Schar Cancer Institute, University of Virginia Health System Cancer Center and Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center – will receive a mission grant. In addition, the V Foundation will fund research in Virginia, and net proceeds over and above these grants will fund research projects nationwide.
In addition, the foundation held a Cancer Research Symposium, for which a scientist from each research center participated in the symposium, sharing specifics on the important work being done in chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapy for pediatric cancers and targeted therapy combinations for personalized cancer care.
The symposium was hosted by Joseph Moore, M.D., who was the primary oncologist of Jim Valvano – the inspiration behind the V Foundation – at Duke University Medical Center and was one the foundation’s original members of the Board of Directors and the Scientific Advisory Board.
“The Cancer Research Symposium puts a human touch and a face on cancer research – the articles you read, the stories you watch on the news – it provides everyone with a basis and solid grounding,” he said in an interview with CURE.
Moore and Braun agreed the key takeaway from the symposium revolved around a presentation given by Daniel “Trey” Lee, M.D., from the University of Virginia School of Medicine, on CAR-T cell therapy in pediatric cancers.
“Many of the extraordinary advances we are seeing in cancer research are so important for our pediatric cancer patients,” Braun said. “So, for us to be able to highlight some of the work that is being done, the need for taking these new approaches and applying them in pediatrics, I think is the most hopeful and impressive message from the symposium.”
“It is important for everyone to see and understand how passionate we are about cancer research,” added Moore, who is also Medical Director of the Duke Raleigh Cancer Center and Professor of Hematology and Oncology at Duke Cancer Center. “The V Foundation tries to foster education for patients, which is one of our founding principles. We also strive to provide access and information for patients.”
The weekend’s events were hosted by former NFL quarterback Joe Theismann and featured WWE Chief Brand Officer and co-founder of Connor’s Cure, Stephanie McMahon – who was honored with the Spirit of Jimmy V Award, which is awarded to inspirational individuals using their voice to raise awareness and funding for cancer research.
“I was amazed at the love and support for Connor’s Cure at the V Foundation’s Virginia Vine event,” McMahon said in a V Foundation press release. “Our focus continues to be on advancing research and saving the lives of children facing cancer. I’m so proud to team up with the V Foundation to help make a difference.”
“It's an honor to participate in Virginia Vine for the V Foundation. It was such a beautiful evening at Stone Tower Winery, and everyone was so generous,” Theismann added. “Each and every guest was committed to the same cause – ending cancer. I firmly believe we will defeat it in our lifetime. Watching the proceeds of this event fund more and more research is exciting.”
As the foundation is midway through celebrating its 25th anniversary, Braun feels this year’s theme – Silver Linings – has made the celebration even more remarkable. “We are acutely aware of the dark cloud that cancer is and continues to be. We know that as we work to clear those clouds, that there are also silver linings and the number and quality of those silver linings seems to be stronger all the time. We are seeing many advancements this year in the work that is being done.”
“What we are doing as a field in immunotherapies, and what we are seeing in targeted therapies, what we are seeing in the different ways we now approach and understand research has really felt like it has come to an all-time great during this year,” she added.