This latest contribution brings the foundation's cumulative gifts to cancer research at UAB to nearly $4.5 million since 1996, when the organization was founded.
Bruce Sokol became a co-founder of the BCRFA about a year after his wife, D.D., was diagnosed with breast cancer. "I was trying to help find a cure while she was alive," he says. "After much consternation about what I could do with all the energy that had been built up inside me ... it led me toward raising money." Fortunately for Sokol, he did not have far to look to find an appropriate recipient for the money. "Being in a community with UAB, and them being on the cutting edge of cancer research, it was a great fit," he says.
BCRFA co-founder Dolly O'Neal has her own personal experience with the disease, having been diagnosed with breast cancer in 1994. After surgery, she got the all-clear at the time. When she and Sokol started the foundation, she says she wasn't thinking of her own health. "We wanted to raise money for research, and my goal was to keep my daughter and her generation from going through this," she says. But O'Neal's breast cancer came back in 2009, and her doctor at the cancer center, Andres Forero, M.D., treated her successfully using a new drug the center was testing. Her cancer came back again in December, and O'Neal is being treated using another new drug the center is putting through a Phase 3 trial.
In both cases, money from the foundation helped fund the research. Such donations are critical given recent reductions in federal funding, according to Forero, senior scientist at the center. This support from the foundation—when divided up into smaller sums for investigators at the cancer center—allows those scientists to gather the data they need to give their funding proposals a better chance of success when they seek bigger grants from external sources.
The foundation's annual donation to UAB is funded with the proceeds from its fund-raising efforts during the previous year, including events, individual and community donations, and sales of specialty breast cancer license plates.
For more information about giving to the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, visit www3.ccc.uab.edu.