UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute Be A Part of the Cure Walk Draws 1,000, Surpasses Fundraising Goal

By Marty Trieschmann

Despite predictions of rain, the weather and atmosphere were perfect for the event that brought together cancer survivors, family, friends, physicians, nurses, researchers, and civic and community leaders to support the Cancer Institute’s work.

The walk raised more than $242,000 to fund cancer research, exceeding the event goal by $42,000. Donations are continuing to come in and can still be made online at

“We were overwhelmed by the support this year. The turnout was incredible,” said Michael Birrer, M.D., Ph.D., Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute Director and UAMS vice chancellor. Birrer’s wife, Elizabeth, chaired the event, leading a 22-person committee of volunteers and UAMS staff who worked for eight months to prepare for the event.

Danyelle Musselman was a hit as the emcee of the event. The wife of Arkansas Razorback Men’s Basketball Coach Eric Musselman shared the impact of cancer in her own family in an interview with KATV Channel 7 during the event.

“Research is the way we find new treatments and cures, and that’s why this event and the work being done in our laboratories at the Cancer Institute are so important,” said UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA, during opening ceremonies.

Little Rock City Director Kathy Webb, a breast cancer survivor treated at UAMS, spoke during closing ceremonies.

“People in my family have been hit by cancer, and as in all families, regrettably not everybody has the same outcome,” said Webb. “Just last Friday, we lost a family member to lung cancer. Through his two-year journey, we prayed for that research miracle so his outcome and others like him could have the same outcome that my brother, a prostate cancer survivor, and I did. Today, we celebrate our survivors, we thank the researchers, we raise awareness, and I ask you not only to give what you can but also to advocate for more money for research.”

Betsy Lavender, a UAMS colorectal cancer survivor, was recognized for raising more than $11,550, making her the top individual fundraiser.

“I had all of my treatment at UAMS,” said Lavender. “The main thing that really helped me was being able to stay in state for my treatment where I could be surrounded by everybody who supported me. There’s nothing more important than helping raise money and doing anything I can to help UAMS toward their goal of NCI designation.”

The Dillard’s Stepping on Cancer Team received the first place team fundraising award, netting $11,874 to date.

“It was great to have so many teams both inside UAMS and outside groups participating,” said Elizabeth Birrer.  “It was a great way to get UAMS involved and for some of the employees and people in the community to fundraise in honor of someone close to them.”

The walk received unprecedented sponsorship support this year. In addition to founding sponsor, Hickingbotham Investments, supporting sponsors included Baptist Health, Highlands Oncology and Astra Zeneca, along with 50 other organizations and businesses.

Next year’s Be A Part of the Cure Walk is set for May 6, 2023.

View and download your favorite photos from the event.