As Suzanne and Jim Cyrus of Bartlesville, Okla., reflect on their 55th anniversary this past June, they say their golden years are all the more golden thanks to a recent surprise arranged by their four children.
The Cyrus Scholar Award for Outstanding Clinical Research in honor of James S. and Suzanne Cyrus was announced at MD Anderson in April. The couple presented the scholarship to Aarif Khakoo, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Cardiology. On hand were 17 family members scattered across four states, including Michael Cyrus, Linda Thomas, Esq., Mark Cyrus and Scott Cyrus, M.D.
“Our children have honored us in so many ways during their lifetimes,” says Jim. “To have an award named in our honor is certainly not something we would have ever expected, but it’s a unique and wonderful gift. Suzanne and I are proud of our family and very humbled to be a part of the unbelievable work being done at MD Anderson.”
At the award ceremony, Michael Cyrus of Tampa, Fla., spoke on behalf of his siblings: “It was with great respect, love and honor that we established this award in the name of our mother and father. We are proud to help extend your lifelong commitment to, as you would say, Dad, the ‘simple but not always easy act of giving’.”
The Cyrus family has a long tradition of philanthropy and community service. In 2005, Michael and Mariet Cyrus established the Cyrus Family Endowment to promote the development of basic and clinical research skills in internal medicine. With the support of the Cyrus family and matching gifts, it’s grown to approximately $267,000. The family plans to continue funding the endowment in hopes of hitting a goal of $1 million.
The endowment provides two competitive awards, each for $15,000 ($5,000 each year for three years) to an outstanding basic/translational researcher and a clinical researcher. Judges include Raymond DuBois, M.D., Ph.D., provost and executive vice president of MD Anderson, and Robert Gagel, M.D., head of the Division of Internal Medicine.
Sushovan Guha, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, received the 2009 Cyrus Scholar Award for Outstanding Basic Research in Honor of Archie Lester, father of Mariet Cyrus.
The continued benefit, say Jim and Suzanne, is that the fund provides an opportunity for their family, generation after generation, to support world-class research that has the potential to help cancer patients and their families now and in the future.