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Hillman Cancer Center Gala Raises Millions for Cancer Research, Prevention and Patient Care

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PITTSBURGH, Oct. 7, 2009 – Emmy-award winning actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth joined Pittsburgh native Michael Keaton, dancers from the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, the region’s most influential community and civic leaders and 650 other guests at a gala last night, raising a total of $3.6 million for cancer research, cancer prevention and patient care programs at the Hillman Cancer Center, the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) and UPMC Cancer Centers. The event, The Power of Partnership: A Future Without Cancer, was held at the New Monroeville Convention Center.

Proceeds from this year’s gala will support two key areas: cancer research and financial assistance for patients. Research efforts at the Hillman Cancer Center and UPCI focus on treatments for all types and stages of cancer, as well as cancer prevention and early detection.  Each research area requires multidisciplinary collaboration as well as steady streams of support for laboratories, technical staff, equipment, supplies and other essential needs. Current research projects are providing new insights into how cancer might be prevented, honing methods for early detection and developing more successful treatments for cancer.

Because financial hardship can be an extraordinary burden for patients and their families, gala proceeds will also provide partial, short-term assistance for financially-challenged patients so they can have continued access to the equipment, nutritional supplements, prosthetic devices, transportation and local lodging, allowing them to fight their cancer without worrying how to pay for it.

“I am deeply impressed with the generosity and commitment of our supporters,” said Nancy E. Davidson, M.D., director of UPCI and UPMC Cancer Centers. “Last night was my first gala since becoming director, and the dedication the community has to fighting this disease, even in difficult economic times, is incredible.”

Ms. Chenoweth performed a selection of songs for the audience, and actor Michael Keaton served  as Master of Ceremonies. The Pittsburgh Ballet Theater performed a variety of dances throughout the evening, and guests were treated to a dinner executed by UPMC Executive Chef Brad Kelly and his team.

Gala leadership and supporters of UPCI and UPMC Cancer Centers in attendance included honorary chairs Henry and Elsie Hillman and Sy and Cathy Holzer; gala chairs Susan and Steve McGalla; Presenting Sponsor, The PNC Financial Services Group; Jeffrey Romoff, President of UPMC; Mark Nordenberg, Chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh; Debi and Pete Wheeler; Bonnie and Tom VanKirk; Susan and Barney Guttman; David and Cindy Shapira; Equitable Gas Company; the Pittsburgh Penguins; Oxford Development; and other donors.

The Hillman Cancer Center is the flagship facility for both UPCI and UPMC Cancer Centers.  UPMC Cancer Centers offers cancer patients exceptional care and innovative treatments close to home. Working in tandem with UPCI, the region’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, UPMC Cancer Centers provides the latest advances in cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment at more than 40 community-based locations throughout the region. UPCI comprises the academic and research activities for cancer at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.