Dean Jay Hess and researchers from IU School of Medicine join representatives from the Vera Bradley Foundation on stage for a check presentation
The Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer continued its two decades of support for Indiana University School of Medicine’s breast cancer research program with a donation of more than $1 million at its annual charity golf outing on June 3.
The foundation—the charitable arm of the Fort Wayne-based handbag and accessory maker—has donated more than $32.5 million to IU School of Medicine toward a total commitment of $37.5 million.
“Today, I’m here to tell you that we are barreling ahead,” IU School of Medicine Dean Jay L. Hess, MD, PhD, MHSA, told a crowd of several hundred people at the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer Classic. “Over the past year, we’ve focused tremendous time and energy on one of the most aggressive types of breast cancer: triple negative breast cancer. And we are making terrific progress.”
Research makes possible ‘life’s simple pleasures’
The theme for the evening was “A Million Dreams,” based on the song from the popular movie “The Greatest Showman.” Hess, who sings in his church choir, delighted and surprised guests by joining Fort Wayne-area vocalist Rachel Smith onstage to sing the final lines of the song: “A million dreams is all it’s gonna take/ A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make.”
He said support from the Vera Bradley Foundation is helping Stephens realize her dreams.
Thanks to the study, Stephens can visit with her granddaughter, spend time tending to her garden, and continue her near-daily visits to a nursing home for retired priests. “You see, Jackie doesn’t have a bucket list or some grand adventure she wants to go on,” Hess said. “She just wants to get up each day, enjoy life’s simple pleasures, and have more time with her family.”
“I can’t promise what the future holds for Jackie—or for any patient—but I can promise that we don’t give up,” said Hess, who lost his own mother to breast cancer when he was in college. “We will be relentless in our pursuit of a cure. And we will get there. There will be a day when breast cancer no longer instills fear the way it did for my mother, or Jackie, or countless others like them.”
The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
Director of Strategic Communications
Karen Spataro served as director of the Indiana University School of Medicine Office of Strategic Communications from 2018-2020. She is now the Chief Communications Officer at Riley Children's Foundation.