Since 1990, thousands of donors across the country have joined in support of A Conversation With a Living Legend®, MD Anderson’s signature fundraising event. Conceived by MD Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors member Lyda Hill of Dallas and replicated across the country, the luncheon/dinner event has grown exponentially. Its live interview concept has honored celebrities, heads of state, sports icons and other “legendary” figures, while audiences in Atlanta; Corpus Christi; Houston; Las Vegas; San Antonio; and Washington, D.C., have raised more than $46 million for cancer research and patient care programs to date. Two virtual events in recent months have harnessed the power of technology to sustain Living Legend’s success despite the challenges of COVID-19, generating $2.2 million combined.
North Texas: Nov. 16, 2020
The virtual North Texas A Conversation With a Living Legend® raised $1 million for MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program®. The 31st annual event honored Admiral William H. McRaven, U.S. Navy, Retired, and former chancellor of The University of Texas System, in an interview with CBS News’ Bob Schieffer.
Event chair Cathy Allday led a steering committee of more than 60 Dallas- and Fort Worth-area community and business leaders in coordinating the successful event. Meredith Land, anchor of KXAS-NBC5, served as emcee, and President and Mrs. George W. Bush lent their names as honorary chairs.
The event included special recognition of post-9/11 veterans who have participated in the Bush Institute’s Military Service Initiative programs. Speakers included Peter WT Pisters, M.D., president of MD Anderson, and Chad Braun, a melanoma survivor who reflected on his experiences at MD Anderson. A Zoom interview led by Schieffer touched on highlights of McRaven’s career, including his leadership of the U.S. Special Operations Command. McRaven commanded the troops who captured Saddam Hussein and rescued Captain Richard Phillips, and he is credited with planning and leading the Osama bin Laden mission in 2011.
Major support came from Lyda Hill Philanthropies, presenting sponsor. Red Carpet Underwriters included Lana and Barry Andrews and Natalie and Mike McGuire, Andrews Distributing; Peggy and Carl Sewell, Sewell Automotive; Sherry and J. Robert Brown; and The Rosewood Corporation.
Since its inception in 1990, the North Texas Living Legend event has raised more than $20 million for cancer research and patient care programs at MD Anderson. In recent years, the event has allocated nearly $5.5 million to the Moon Shots Program, a collaborative effort to accelerate the development of scientific discoveries into clinical advances that save patients’ lives.
Houston-San Antonio: Feb. 4, 2021
MD Anderson supporters across the country tuned in to the virtual Living Legend in February, raising $1.2 million for blood cancer research. Houston and San Antonio Living Legend past chairs joined forces to lead the event, which showcased three broadcast journalists connected by their relationships with late CNN and Turner Sports sportscaster Craig Sager, who died of acute myeloid leukemia in 2016.
- Robin Roberts, anchor of ABC’s “Good Morning America” and a survivor of breast cancer and myelodysplastic syndrome
- Interviewer Ernie Johnson, Jr., of CBS Sports and Turner Sports and a survivor of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and prostate cancer
- Charles Barkley, analyst for TNT’s “Inside the NBA” and former National Basketball Association All-Star and MVP
The event recognized Sager posthumously as the latest recipient of MD Anderson’s Making Cancer History® Award, along with the SagerStrong Foundation led by his wife, Stacy Sager, and their family.