‘Be a Part of the Cure’ Raises $400,000 for Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute

By Susan Van Dusen

Be a Part of the Cure aired throughout the day on KATV, Channel 7 and raised $402,000 for the Cancer Institute’s research and treatment programs.

“We are thrilled with the generosity of our fellow Arkansans. The fight again cancer never stops, and these funds will play an important role in allowing our researchers to make vital discoveries right here in Arkansas,” said Natalie Rockefeller, co-chair of the event along with husband Win Rockefeller Jr.

The event was sponsored by Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort and hosted by KATV personality Renee Shapiro.

Ferguson, Bryant-Smith and Shapiro on TV

(From left) Breast cancer survivor Debby Ferguson, UAMS’ Gwendolyn Bryant-Smith, M.D., and KATV’s Renee Shapiro appear on the broadcast.

Arvest, Middleton Heat and Air, Rock City Harley Davidson and Mitchell Williams Law Firm each donated $5,000 matching gifts.

Members of the Cancer Institute Board of Advisors accepted donations by phone, while other donors contributed via text.

“This event would not have been possible without the outstanding support of our donors and Cancer Institute Board of Advisors. Cancer touches far too many families. It is our hope that the money we raise will bring hope to people living with cancer now and those diagnosed in the future,” Win Rockefeller said.

The event kicked off with statements from Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA, and Cancer Institute Director Michael Birrer, M.D., Ph.D.

“The UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute is a leader in innovative research and therapies that benefit all Arkansans. I am proud of their work and support their efforts to find new ways to prevent, diagnosis and treat cancer,” Hutchinson said.

Patterson praised the Cancer Institute’s dedication to providing care for citizens from throughout the state.

“Even during a pandemic, cancer does not stop. That’s why we must fight even harder to ensure all Arkansans have access to highest quality care and the latest treatment options,” Patterson said.

Funds raised by the event will be used to support the work of Cancer Institute researchers and allow for patients to participate in new clinical trials.

“By expanding the number of clinical trials we offer, our patients will have access to the most advanced treatment options. We are committed to providing these therapies for all Arkansans, because this is what our patients both want and need,” said Birrer, who also serves as vice chancellor and director the UAMS Cancer Service Line.

The televised event featured doctors and cancer survivors sharing stories about the Cancer Institute’s services, including:

  • Gwendolyn Bryant-Smith, M.D., director of the UAMS Division of Breast Imaging, director of the UAMS Breast Center and Mobile Mammography and associate professor in the UAMS College of Medicine Department of Radiology
  • Debby Ferguson, breast cancer survivor
  • Muthu Veeraputhiran, M.D., director of Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy and associate professor in the UAMS College of Medicine Department of Internal Medicine
  • Matthew Steliga, M.D., thoracic surgeon and associate professor in the UAMS College of Medicine Department of Surgery
  • Gwen Klosky, lung cancer survivor