Palm Beach community honors David Koch and Maria Floyd

Almost $2 million raised to support 
unprecedented assault on cancer

MD Anderson News Release 01-10-14

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center officially became a part of the Palm Beach social season with its inaugural Making Cancer History® Award Gala, Dec. 13, 2013 at the Mar-a-Lago Club, with almost 450 guests in attendance. Known as "Milestones and Miracles," the event honored David Koch and the late Maria Floyd for their advocacy in cancer research. Ann Vandersteel, an MD Anderson cancer survivor, gave a testimonial. 

At the end of the gala, Ronald DePinho, M.D., president of MD Anderson, announced an unexpected $1 million donation by MD Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors member William B. Finneran to establish the Finneran Family Endowment for Translational Research at MD Anderson and create the Finneran Family Prize for recognizing outstanding faculty members. The gift brings the total for the evening to almost $2 million. Finneran co-chaired the gala with Palm Beach residents and MD Anderson supporters Hillie Mahoney and Dudley L. Moore Jr.

Koch and Floyd joined the MD Anderson family as patients, later becoming supporters of the institution and its mission to eliminate cancer. Presentation of the Making Cancer History® Award honored them for their commitment to finding a cure through their cancer experiences and generous philanthropic support.

Koch was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1992 and turned to Christopher Logothetis, M.D., professor and chair, Genitourinary Medical Oncology, for his treatment.

“I’m a survivor, and I have tremendous sympathy for others who have this disease,” said Koch. “When you’re up close and personal with prostate cancer, you become a crusader. My wife and I have three young children, and I have great aspirations to live long enough to see all of them graduate from college. They are tremendous incentives.”

In 2007, to reflect the gratitude for the care he received at MD Anderson and with a passion to support prostate cancer research, Koch donated $18 million to establish the David Koch Center for Applied Research in Genitourinary Cancers. Under the direction of Logothetis, the Koch Center brings together basic, translational and clinical scientists to rapidly move scientific findings to patients with diseases such as prostate cancer.

In 2011, Maria Floyd was diagnosed with small cell carcinoma of the bladder, a rare and aggressive cancer. She and her husband of almost 40 years, World Golf Hall of Fame inductee Ray Floyd, chose Ashish Kamat, M.D., associate professor in Urology, to lead her treatment. The couple became advocates for bladder cancer and established an annual research award through the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network. Maria continued her advocacy until her death Sept. 7, 2012. In December of that year, Floyd pledged $1 million to support Kamat’s research.

“This is my way of continuing Maria’s fight,” said Floyd. “My hope is that my donation will be used to discover a way to reduce the suffering from this disease and help patients avoid the ravages of chemotherapy and its impact on the body.”

Proceeds from the gala will support the Moon Shots Program, an unprecedented, comprehensive assault on cancer that MD Anderson launched in September 2012. The program comprises six teams of researchers and clinicians initially focusing on significantly reducing mortality in eight cancers: acute myeloid leukemia/myelodysplastic syndromes, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, melanoma, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and triple negative breast and high grade serous ovarian cancers. The ultimate goal is to apply knowledge gained from this process to all cancers. Moon shot efforts will help support all other cancer research at MD Anderson, particularly with improved resources and infrastructure.

“We’re truly honored to recognize David Koch and the Floyd family for their continued support,” said DePinho. “We’re also extremely grateful to William Finneran for his financial commitment and the distinguished recognition it offers our faculty.”

“All of the great ideas in the world and all of the technological breakthroughs that exist today will have little impact without the resources to support this complex initiative,” said DePinho. “The philanthropic efforts of our committee, led by visionary chairs William Finneran, Hillie Mahoney and Dudley Moore, will ultimately mean a better quality of life for all who survive this dreaded disease and experience the joys of a cancer-free future. Our gratitude is immeasurable as we march forward, together, to eradicate cancer.”