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Prevention: Donor Profile

Annual Report - 2006-2007

Giving Back

By Sarah Watson

Barbara Thomas Lemmon

Her contributions to M. D. Anderson have been legendary, though she’s much too modest to admit it.

Barbara Thomas Lemmon of Dallas spent a major portion of 2007 helping plan the 18th annual “A Conversation With a Living Legend.” The M. D. Anderson fundraiser featured Emmy Award-winning comedian, actress and author Carol Burnett and broadcast journalist Deborah Norville in an onstage interview at the Hilton Anatole.

As chair of the event steering committee, Lemmon led Dallas- and Fort Worth-area volunteers in planning and producing a successful luncheon that attracted an audience of 1,000 and raised more than $765,000 for M. D. Anderson’s research and patient care programs.

No small task, the job entailed carving “a lot of time,” as Lemmon graciously puts it, from a calendar already packed with other philanthropic commitments and business interests, including a California vineyard and winery she owns with husband Mark Lemmon, M.D., a retired surgeon. But Lemmon was prepared for the challenge — she’s served on the event’s steering committee since 1990, when the first “Living Legend” in Dallas put the spotlight on baseball great Nolan Ryan. In the process, she’s helped the metroplex area raise more than $7 million for research and patient care programs at M. D. Anderson.

“‘Living Legend’ will always have a special place in my heart,” says Lemmon, who was a member of M. D. Anderson’s Board of Visitors from 1999 to 2003. “It’s such a worthwhile endeavor. It’s an opportunity for M. D. Anderson to be better known in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and all over the state of Texas.”

Lemmon’s late husband, independent oil producer Max Thomas, was treated for small cell lung cancer at M. D. Anderson some 25 years ago and participated in the first interferon clinical trial. Thomas died in 1982.

“We received great care at M. D. Anderson,” Lemmon says. “I’ve had a warm spot in my heart, a true affection for M. D. Anderson ever since. ‘A Conversation With a Living Legend’ offers an outlet to do what I can in a small way to give back.”

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center