Celebratory Event Marks 70th Anniversary
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center marked its 70th anniversary with an evening of celebration May 5 at Minute Maid Park. The event saluted Anne and John Mendelsohn, M.D., with a Texas cultural tribute and about 2,000 guests.
Leading the festivities as masters of ceremonies were Scott Pelley, recently named "CBS Evening News" anchor and managing editor, and Sam Champion, ABC News weather editor and "Good Morning America" weather anchor.
Also on the program were:
- Luci Baines Johnson,
- UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa, M.D.,
- UT System Board of Regents Chair William Eugene “Gene” Powell and
- former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and his wife, Susan Baker.
Event chairs were Janet and Ernie Cockrell, Nancy Loeffler and Charline and Red McCombs. The Bakers join Barbara and George Bush as honorary chairs. Honorary co-chairs were Lynn and Peter Coneway, Edwin L. Cox, Brenda and John Duncan, Sally and Forrest Hoglund, Barbara and Randall Meyer, Madeleine and T. Boone Pickens and Jeri and Marc Shapiro.
A VIP reception was held on the park’s Club level, followed by a general reception on the field, and dinner and entertainment.
Entertainment included a diverse mix of classical, country and western, Latino and gospel performers:
- the Houston Symphony Orchestra
- mezzo soprano Susan Graham
- concert violinist Sarah Chang
- Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers
- soprano Barbara Padilla with The University of Texas Pan-American Mariachi Aztlan and Ballet Folklόrico Luz de Luna
- the Houston Children’s Chorus
- a multidenominational chorale with vocalist Mary Griffin
Three cancer survivors shared personal reflections on MD Anderson’s world-class research initiatives and patient care programs. One of them, Shelby Robin, is a former pediatric patient who is now a nurse at MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital, where she once received treatment.
MD Anderson produced the event with Houston-based Ward & Ames Special Events.
Anne and John Mendelsohn Personalized Cancer Therapy Fund
Proceeds from the evening will establish the Anne and John Mendelsohn Personalized Cancer Therapy Fund in honor of the couple’s 15 years of service to MD Anderson, the city of Houston and beyond. The event raised more than $4 million through ticket sales and gifts in honor of the Mendelsohns.
Mendelsohn, the institution’s third president, recently announced plans to return to research and relinquish his leadership position. A search for a new president is under way.
“Dr. and Mrs. Mendelsohn have given enormously of their time, energy, expertise and creativity to Making Cancer History®. They’ve made an indelible mark in the lives of cancer patients and their families everywhere,” says Patrick Mulvey, vice president for development.
"In return, we’re establishing a fund in their honor to support research that will test cancer therapies to target the abnormal genes and gene products detected in each patient’s cancer. The fund will continue the pioneering research in personalized cancer therapies Dr. Mendelsohn started 30 years ago.”
John Mendelsohn, M.D. (center), with former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and Susan Baker, who were honorary chairs of MD Anderson's 70th anniversary celebration along with former President George H.W. and Barbara Bush. Photo: F. Carter Smith
Luci Baines Johnson, who introduced a video message from Barbara and George H.W. Bush, with Charles A. LeMaistre, M.D., MD Anderson's second president. Photo: Fulton Davenport
The University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa, M.D., addresses the crowd. Photo: Fulton Davenport
"Good Morning America" weather anchor Sam Champion, one of the evening's masters of ceremonies, shares his family's experiences at MD Anderson. Photo: Fulton Davenport
Larry Gatlin performs with his brothers, accompanied by the Houston Symphony Orchestra. Photo: Fulton Davenport
The Luz de Luna Ballet Folklorico entertain during a Cinco de Mayo tribute featuring soprano and cancer survivor Barbara Padilla, the Houston Symphony Orchestra and The University of Texas Pan-American Mariachi Aztlan. Photo: Fulton Davenport
The 100 voices of the Houston Children's Chorus perform "Paint the Sky With Stars," part of the evening's finale. Photo: Fulton Davenport
Anne and John Mendelsohn, M.D., visit with master of ceremonies Scott Pelley, recently named "CBS Evening News" anchor and managing editor. Photo: Pete Baatz
Anne and John Mendelsohn, M.D., with two of their sons, Eric (left) and Jeff, who traveled to Houston for the May 5 event honoring their parents. Photo: Pete Baatz
Charline and Red McCombs of San Antonio were among the event's chairs. Photo: Pete Baatz
Internationally acclaimed concert violinist Sarah Chang performs "The Finale of the Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, No. 1" by Max Bruch. Photo: Pete Baatz
Soprano Barbara Padilla, a cancer survivor, performs with The University of Texas Pan-American Mariachi Aztlan, the Luz de Luna Ballet Folklorico and the Houston Symphony Orchestra. Photo: Pete Baatz