Ridgites and Californians came out to the Bay Ridge Manor on Oct. 9 for an event promoting the John Wayne Cancer Institute.
The institute, which has been based at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California since 1991, was founded in memory of Academy Award-winning actor John Wayne, whose prolific career spanned nearly five decades — including memorable roles in films such as “Red River,” “The Searchers,” and “The Longest Day,” among many others — before he died of stomach cancer at 72 years old in 1979. But his granddaughter said that events such as the one on Monday night help keep Wayne’s memory alive, while also promoting the important work of the institute.
“It was a great event,” said Anita La Cava Swift. “We were able to share what we’ve done and the many things that the John Wayne Cancer Institute has accomplished.”
The event, which was sponsored by Ridgites Michael and Elizabeth Connors and held at Bay Ridge Manor, included dinner, a silent auction, and speakers from the institute, and was the first Ridge-based event promoting the institute. Connors said that the purpose of the event was to raise money and awareness about the institute’s work, and that they held it on this corner of the East Coast because Wayne’s son, Patrick — who also attended on Monday night — was flying into New York from California to receive an award anyway.
A doctor and researcher at the Institute, Dr. Melanie Goldfarb, spoke about the cancer research she and others are conducting, and the vice president of development at Providence Saint John’s spoke about the institute research that has been put into practice around the world.
“The research and innovations and discoveries that are made at the John Wayne Cancer Institute are being used by cancer physicians all across the world,” said Andy Trilling. “We have a really international impact.”
Trilling and La Cava Swift both cited the sentinel node biopsy — an early-stage surgical procedure developed in the 1980s that is used to determine the spread of breast cancer and melanoma throughout the lymphatic system — as one of the Institute’s most enduring contributions to oncology.
“This isn’t just for the community in Santa Monica,” La Cava Swift said. “We’ve developed a standard of care treatment used around the world.”
One attendee said he learned more about the institute by attending the event and was subsequently inspired to contribute.
“I thought it was very informative,” said Mike Steinberg. “You have to support the charities you believe in.”
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