When the 2020 Cattle Baron’s Ball Co-Chairs Diana Hamilton and Heather Randall were put on notice of COVID-19’s new world of no large gatherings, they didn’t cancel their annual spring luncheon for committee members. These 21st century gals simply adjusted it to a virtual get-together, inviting the membership to “grab your lunch, a glass of rose and your slippers” on Friday, April 24.
Before reporting on the ways that COVID-19 had affected the ACS’s programs, Gary kicked off the talk by complimenting the CBB, saying that it had provided more than $85M since it started and was the ACS’s largest single fundraiser. He added that he and his wife Cindy Reedy had firsthand knowledge of the event, having attended it twice.
He then explained that when the restrictions were put into place and out of concern for the ACS staff members, the patients and their families, they closed their offices and began working remotely six weeks ago.
Another tough step was closing the Hope Lodges at the end of March. “It was a heartbreaking decision.” Luckily, they were able to provide help via the ACS website and their huge 24/7 call center.
But the Lodges didn’t go dormant. According to Gary, “Within a week, we retooled the Lodges to be used for the healthcare workers to stay. There are currently 11 being used for this purpose.”
Regarding the effect of the coronavirus on the nonprofit world, he explained that the “nonprofit industry is the third largest sector in the U.S.”
From the middle of March thru the end of June, ACS had canceled all fundraising events. “We’re looking at a 30% or more reduction in our fundraising.” The result will be a reduction of expenses, furloughing staffers and decreased salaries.
But he emphasized, “We will prevail.”
With the ACS preparing to celebrate its 107th birthday next month, he said that the ACS is predicting a 40% reduction of cancer mortality in the U.S. by 2035. “That’s what we’re committed to.”
When Diana asked about the people who were going undiagnosed because they can’t go to the doctor, Gary said, “We are concerned about people being able to be screened. As we’re seeing different states open up, we’re looking at how we can get up and running for those people that need us.”
He regretted that cancer patients going through treatments were unable to because of COVID-19.
On the other hand, he said that as a result of the virus, “telemedicine is coming out of this and helps loosen this load.”
Gary also stressed the significance of immune therapy — “Where you take the body’s own immune system and you train it to attack the cancer cells. Cancer cells are able to disguise themselves where the body does not recognize that it’s foreign and attack it. Through ways, we are able to train the immune system to recognize the cancer cells as foreign and to actually attack the cells. With immune therapy, we’re having success and actual cures where the people’s own immune system is used to fight cancer and you don’t have to use surgery or chemo or radiation.” As an example of the success of immune therapy, he pointed out former President Jimmy Carter, who at the age of 90 had been diagnosed with melanoma that had spread to his brain and liver. “Three years earlier he would have been dead. But thanks to immune therapy, he was cured and is alive and turkey hunting and building houses.”
He went on to say that in the future, cancer will be dealt with on a much more targeted basis. “We’ve learned so much more in the last five years.”
While he said that they were seeing “terrific results” in dealing with lung cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer and melanoma, “those are the most common cancers.” It’s offering hope for dealing with the more deadly cancers like pancreatic cancer and glioblastomas cancer of the brain. “We have a lot of work to do there.”
In closing, Gary emphasized to the committee members, “Do not underestimate the impact you are making. The payoff is huge because of the impact it has on peoples’ lives.”
Even after Gary signed off, the luncheon carried on with announcements including:
- Raffle items: A Park Place luxury vehicle (Lexus, Mercedes, Ranger Rover or Porsche), a PlainsCapital debit card for $10K, NorthPark Gold for $15K, a Eiseman Jewels Bretiling watch and a year-long Hillstone no-wait pass at Honor Bar, Hillstone and R+D.
- Junior Cattle Baron’s Ball will be a virtual experience for patients at Childrens’.
- CBB official photographer Tamytha Cameron will doing front-porch photos of CBB members that will benefit CBB.