2011 Honoring the Promise Recap

Honoring the PromiseCelebrities, government leaders, scientists, advocates and breast cancer leaders gathered in glorious surroundings in Washington for Susan G. Komen for the Cure’’s second annual Honoring the Promise gala, which raises funds for breast cancer research and programs while honoring the leaders of the breast cancer movement.

Over 1,000 people filled the Eisenhower Theatre inside the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for a night of uplifting performances and moving speeches that served to remind those of the importance in continuing their support in the fight against breast cancer.

NBC TODAY Show co-host and breast cancer survivor Hoda Kotb emceed the program which featured performances by singer Natasha Bedingfield —singing acoustic versions of her hit songs “Pocket Full of Sunshine” and “Unwritten” — Grammy Award-winning violinist Miri Ben-Ari, opera singer Denyce Graves-Montgomery, aerial artist Amanda Topaz and the vocal jazz ensemble Afro Blue from Howard University.

Nancy G. Brinker at the podiumRounding out the program were Hollywood stars Kerry Washington–wearing a lady-like pink and black Marc Jacobs dress– Donald Faison and fiancé CaCee Cobb, Jennifer Beals and breast cancer survivor Vanessa Bell Calloway. They joined friends of Komen from inside the Beltway – MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, FedEx Corporation’s Gina Adams, Danaher Corporation’s William H. King and philanthropist Annie Totah.

Co-founded by Kennedy Center Chairman David Rubenstein and held in the Eisenhower Center for the Performing Arts at the Kennedy Center, the Honoring the Promise event included a Lifetime Achievement Award to former First Lady Betty Ford, whose courage in disclosing her breast cancer diagnosis in 1974 opened the national conversation about the leading cancer killer of women worldwide.  Komen founder and CEO Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker presented the award to Mrs. Ford’s daughter, Susan Bales.

In September 1974, a wife and mother confronted four words that had shattered women’s lives for decades:  ‘I have breast cancer.’” Ford Bales began her tear-filled speech. “That woman was my mom; That woman was First Lady of the United States;  That woman was Betty Ford. Komen presented Awards of Distinction in four additional categories.

    • For Scientific and Medical achievement -– Charles M. Perou, Ph.D., head of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Lineberger Cancer Center and recognized for his work identifying subtypes of breast cancer;
    • For Advocacy -  Ellen V. Sigal, Ph.D. for her work to accelerate cancer research and public policy, as chair and founder of the Friends of Cancer research organization in D.C.;
    • For Community – Sandra M. Swain, M.D., medical director of the Washington Cancer Institute, and project director of the Breaking Down Barriers program to reach medically underserved women in the National Capitol Area, and
    • Global Leadership – Sarah Brown, wife of former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, for her work for women and children.

The collective achievements of these honorees have significantly improved our understanding of breast cancer, identified new treatments, and built a global community looking out for the needs of women and men facing breast cancer,” Brinker said. Brinker founded Susan G. Komen for the Cure in 1982, after promising her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would do everything in her power to end the disease.

Since then, Komen has grown to become the largest breast cancer organization, funding more research than any other breast cancer non-profit ($685 million to date), and another $1.3 billion to community outreach programs. This includes $20 million to programs in the National Capital Area.

We’’d like to thank everyone who made tonight’s event a success, starting with David Rubenstein and his wife Alice for serving as founding chairs for the event alongside honorary chairs the Ambassador of the State of Kuwait and Mrs. Salem Al-Sabah, Senator Scott Brown and Gail Huff, Representative John Dingell, the Honorable and Mrs. John Engler and Senator Joseph Lieberman.

Andrea Mitchell, Hoda Kotb, Jennifer Griffin, and Deborah Charles
From L to R: Andrea Mitchell, Hoda Kotb, Jennifer Griffin, and Deborah Charles

The evening gala was co-chaired by Jane and Spencer Abraham, Deborah Dingell, Ginger and Stuart Pape, Hadassah Lieberman, Marlene and Fred Malek, Susanna and Jack Quinn, Anne and John D. Raffaelli, Vanessa and Thomas Reed, Vicki and Roger Sant, Linda and Acie Vickers and Young Professionals Chairs John Pearson III, Kiki Ryan and Ashley Taylor.

A special reception before the gala honored women Kotb with the Rebecca Lipkin Award of Media Distinction, named for the ABC News producer who died of breast cancer in 2009. Read our recap of the Women In Media event here and Hoda Kotb’s award here.

More pictures to come soon!

About the author

Susan G. Komen has written 342 articles for Susan G. Komen® | Blog

Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever. In 1982, that promise became Susan G. Komen and launched the global breast cancer movement. Today, Komen is the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures. Thanks to events like the Komen Race for the Cure®, we have invested more than $1.9 billion to fulfill our promise, becoming the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world.

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