More than 900 supporters came out to Chicago’s Navy Pier to celebrate the 14th Annual Goombay Bash—a Caribbean festival to find a cure for cancer. This signature event is hosted each year by The H Foundation, a self-proclaimed "group of friends determined to make a difference" with all proceeds benefiting basic science research at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. This year's event raised nearly $560,000.
"Cancer is personal to us. It has affected our families, friends, and colleagues. When faced with difficulty, you can either choose to run away and hide or to do something about it. The Goombay Bash is our way of making a difference in the fight against cancer," said John Rot, founding member and board president of The H Foundation. "It is an amazing feeling to look around the event and see so many people who have traveled from all parts of the country to come together for one night to support our very personal mission to find a cure for cancer."
Showcasing silent and live auctions, Caribbean-themed food and drinks, and a fireworks finale, the evening also featured celebrity guest Kyle Long, #75 of the Chicago Bears, along with: George Wendt of TV show Cheers fame; CBS 2 Chicago's lead sport anchor Ryan Baker; retired NBA player Stephen Bardo; and actor LaRoyce Hawkins of NBC's Chicago P.D. and Chicago Fire.
A Long and Unique Partnership
Over the past 14 years, The H Foundation has raised more than $5 million in support of the Lurie Cancer Center. This crucial seed fund money has been leveraged by Lurie Cancer Center scientists to compete for an additional $35 million in research funding. The H Foundation's fundraising support also has led to many innovative and successful projects in the area of cancer research, including the establishment of both the field of "oncofertiliy", which helps women preserve their fertility before undergoing cancer treatment, and the Cancer Therapeutics Pipeline, which seeds the discovery of new cancer drugs and early stage diagnostics.
"The H Foundation has been a true pioneer in supporting the most basic research in cancer. It is one of the very few organizations that supports seed ideas in chemistry, engineering, and the basic sciences," said Thomas V. O'Halloran, PhD, Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor of Chemistry and associate director for basic sciences research at the Lurie Cancer Center. "Ultimately, these novel projects have the potential to transform cancer care. Our research community is humbled and awed by the commitment and generosity of The H Foundation."
This year, The H Foundation recognized the efforts of the 1st Alliance Volleyball Club and the Cancer Smashers, two groups in the Chicagoland area who have raised funding over the past year through their team and school communities, respectively.
Leonidas C. Platanias, MD, PhD, Jesse, Sara, Andrew, Abigail, Benjamin, and Elizabeth Lurie Professor of Oncology and interim director of the Lurie Cancer Center, was featured in a video (shown below) at the event in which he underscored the importance and impact of basic science research at Northwestern. Present that evening, Dr. Platanias also shared his thanks during the festivities. "On behalf of the Lurie Cancer Center, I thank The H Foundation for everything you have done and are doing on our behalf tonight. Each year, 14 million people are diagnosed with cancer and eight million die from it. Cancer can be defeated by physicians, scientists, and philanthropists working together. The support of the H Foundation makes a big difference."
Photography by Svandra Fotografik