by Alicia Di Rado and Sarah Gallagher
One moment, 1st Lt. Vincent Garcia was serving with his fellow U.S. Army soldiers in Iraq, and the next, he was standing on the lush grass of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. He could never have imagined the series of events that took him there.
|Vincent Garcia (Photo by Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers)|
Diagnosed by a military physician with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the 40-year-old flew to Los Angeles and began treatment at City of Hope in May. He was three weeks into chemotherapy when he participated in ThinkCure Weekend, a fundraising and awareness event organized by ThinkCure, the official charity of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
ThinkCure supports collaborative cancer research at City of Hope and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. As part of ThinkCure Weekend on June 24 through 26, current and former Dodgers players and coaches took part in a radiothon and telethon and shared their personal stories about cancer through interviews with the media. Supporters made donations and bid on auction items online.
The event raised about $350,000, helping ThinkCure surpass $1 million in funding for cancer research since its creation. Stephen J. Forman, M.D., holder of the Francis and Kathleen McNamara Distinguished Chair in Hematology and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation, has seen ThinkCure’s benefit.
“I’m very emotionally attached to this, first because I’m a Dodgers fan,” Forman said. “This natural partnership between the Dodgers and our hospitals has been so perfect for us.
“These annual weekends where people from every walk of life donate to support our investigators, who develop new treatments and hopefully cures for patients, are what ThinkCure is all about.”
Garcia understands firsthand. Honored by the Dodgers as “Veteran of the Game” on June 24, he watched from the field as 25 physicians and researchers from both hospitals threw out a ceremonial first pitch to kick off ThinkCure Weekend. Among them was his own physician, Leslie Popplewell, M.D., of the Department of Hematology & Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation.
Garcia hopes to go back to his battalion in Iraq, healthy and recharged after the support from his family and friends and his time at ThinkCure Weekend. As a big Dodgers fan, Garcia said, “to know that they’re helping find a cure is great.”
|Pitching in for ThinkCure|
The fourth annual ThinkCure Weekend, which took place June 24 to 26 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, featured more than a dozen City of Hope faculty and staff members who jointly took to the field to throw out the first pitch before the Los Angeles Dodgers faced the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on June 24.
Researchers Christine Brown, Ph.D., David Colcher, Ph.D., Don J. Diamond, Ph.D., Araceli Hamlet, Theodore Krontiris, M.D., Ph.D., and John Termini, Ph.D., represented City of Hope’s laboratory personnel while physicians Behnam Badie, M.D., Ph.D., Stephen J. Forman, M.D., Ryotaro Nakamura, M.D., Leslie Popplewell, M.D., and David Snyder, M.D. and nurse Jody Reyes, M.S.B.A., B.S.N., O.C.N., stood in for the medical center. Michael A. Friedman, M.D., president and chief executive officer, represented City of Hope’s executive and administrative leadership.