Siteman Gala Raises More Than $2.3 Million

Jason Merrill

April 30, 2008 – Featuring NBC Today show personality Al Roker as emcee, the ninth annual Illumination gala for the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine broke another fund-raising record in its celebration of lifesaving cancer cures, raising more than $2.3 million. Money from the gala will be used to support radiation oncology research associated with a new proton beam radiotherapy system, the first of its kind in the Midwest.

The Kling Center for Proton Therapy was announced by Barnes-Jewish Hospital President Andy Ziskind, MD, to honor S. Lee Kling for his dedication to the hospital and its foundation. Kling serves as chair of the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Foundation board and has a distinguished career in business, the military, politics and philanthropy.

Bill and Amy Koman endowed a chair to honor Siteman oncologist Nancy Bartlett, MD. Bartlett is a medical oncologist at Siteman and associate professor of medicine at Washington University.

Top donors at the gala included the Komans, Nick Caporella, Ben and Elaine Fixman, Express Scripts, Anheuser-Busch and event co-chairs Ken (and Marilyn) Steinback and Ken (and Shawn) Suelthaus. Six hundred friends of Barnes-Jewish and Siteman were in attendance, including Al and Ruth Siteman, former Congressman Dick Gephardt and his wife, Jane, Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, Missouri Secretary of State Robyn Carnahan, Build-A-Bear CEO Maxine Clark and husband Bob Fox, and BJC Healthcare CEO Steve Lipstein. Creative Producer’s Group provided executive direction.

Emcee Roker helped forecast a brighter future for cancer cures in the region and threw in a trip to New York to visit the Today show and help him do a weather forecast on air. Roker is passionate about cancer awareness. He lost his father to lung cancer and his mother twice had breast and lung cancer before dying from emphysema complications.

“The Siteman Cancer Center is a center that’s really needed,” Roker said at the event. “Here’s a center that treats people primarily from an eight-state area but still gets people from around the country.”

Roker found out about Siteman’s national reach firsthand on his trip to the gala. “I’m leaving LaGuardia (Airport) with my wife, and on the plane the pilot asks me why I’m going to St. Louis,” he said. “I say I’m hosting a cancer fund-raiser in St. Louis, and he says, ‘For Siteman? I was treated there, and I’m cancer free for four years.’”