The North Shore is made up of caring, passionate individuals, and our group reflects that example. We feel local because we are local,” says President Annette Hickman, when talking about her organization, the University of Chicago Cancer Research Foundation Auxiliary Board (UCCRFAB). “Those who volunteer for our group have all been touched by cancer in some way, whether it be themselves, or a close family member or friend. We are a warm and empathetic group who understands how important it is to raise funds for continued research of the disease.”
The UCCRFAB is a network of dedicated North Shore women who consider themselves “investors of innovation.” For every year since 1951, these dynamic women have donated money to fund unrestricted grants to doctors working within the University of Chicago Medical Center. Every three years, the group selects three different doctors in assorted fields of study in the hopes that their findings will continue to make tremendous breakthroughs in the fight against cancer. “They are not just doctors,” says Hickman. “They are brilliant scientists.”
As a member herself for the past 10 years, Hickman reflects on the group’s 61 years of fund-raising. “The UCCRFAB continues to rally around our doctors for all these years because the University’s findings are so cutting-edge in the ongoing fight against cancer,” she says. “Every cent we give them allows the scientists the opportunity for further research to continue to make breakthroughs and the chance to discover new medicines and treatments.”
The doctors will be awarded the grant money to further pursue their research on April 27, during a luncheon hosted by the UCCRFAB at Michigan Shores Club. A fund-raising push occurred in early 2012, with a focus on leap year, posing each donor with the question: “What would you do with your extra day?” As funds poured in, the group mobilized in getting the money to where it needed to go. Recipients of checks signed by the UCCRFAB at this year’s luncheon will be Jill de Jong, M.D., Ph.D., specializing in childhood blood cancers, Michael Spiotto, M.D., Ph.D., working with head and neck cancers, and Peter O’Donnell, M.D., whose chosen area of practice is bladder, kidney, prostate, and testicular cancers.
An undertaking such as this pulls its strength from its numbers, so the group is looking for new members to join their grassroots efforts. “There are many organizations on the North Shore, but we feel we are unique because of our connection to the world-class doctors and staff at the University of Chicago Medical Center,” explains Hickman. She goes on to explain that through the organization’s 6o-plus years, they have raised more than $3 million—no small task for a group that currently has 20 members.
Becoming an active member of the UCCRFAB has many benefits. “The University of Chicago is a wonderful community. Because the UCCRFAB is a smaller group, you get to know each other. We are connected as if we are a family,” says Hickman. “We are in support of the University of Chicago and assist in getting them their funding, and we can do that through support and fund-raising, and that starts with our members.”
—By Stacy Flannery