Article Type: News

Golden Gala Raises $1.7 Million for Immunotherapy

The 38th annual Golden Gala hosted by AdventHealth Foundation Central Florida (formerly Florida Hospital Foundation) was held on November 18th and 19th, and was truly a “legendary” experience. The pro-am golf tournament, silent auction, three course dinner, and concert featuring the multi-award-winning artist, John Legend, was an incredible experience for everyone in attendance. Behind the revelry was the mission to raise money for AdventHealth Cancer Institute’s new, state-of-the-art Cellular Therapy Lab which promises results far more exciting than any two days of entertainment could provide.

What We’re Funding and Fighting for

“This year in the U.S., 1.7 million people will be diagnosed with cancer and nearly 610,000 will die from the disease,” explains Dr. Mark A. Socinski, executive medical director of the AdventHealth Cancer Institute and keynote speaker. “Historically, treatment of cancer centered around surgery, chemo, and radiation. But now we’re in a new era where scientists are unraveling critical pathways and that’s allowed a new generation of treatment much more effective than the traditional cancer treatments.”

Dr. Mark A. Socinski, explains, “this new type of therapy is called immunotherapy, and uses your own cells to help your body fight cancer, infection, and other diseases. What’s more personalized than your own cells fighting your cancer?”

A gentleman by the name of Nelson Adams received a form of immunotherapy, but his story is different than the rest. He received a lifesaving treatment called CAR- T and shares the severity of having this type of immunotherapy close to home. With the help of the Central Florida community, we will soon be able to facilitate CAR-T at the Cancer Institute with the buildout of the new Cellular Therapy Lab – and will be able to serve more patients like Nelson. (video)

Traditionally, patients with stage four cancer are treated with little to no chance of survival. However, Dr. Socinski sees promise in the future. “In my own practice, every patient that I’ve seen in the past with stage four cancer, I made clear to them that their disease was treatable, but not curable. I now think with the new era of immunotherapy that might not be the case any longer. The AdventHealth Cancer Institute is on a mission to provide personalized curative treatments to the people fighting cancer in our community, and with the money raised through Golden Gala, we’re one step closer to making that a reality.”

Expanding Services, Growing Reach, Increasing Convenience

Cellular therapy relies on bone marrow transplants which contain the necessary instructional elements to turn your body into a cancer-fighting machine. The new facility will fuse both our adult and pediatric cellular therapy programs and allow us to be a leading destination center in Florida for patients in need of bone marrow transplants. The new lab will bring the vision of growing our adult and pediatric program to life.

The expansion of space will reduce the time from cell collection to infusion, which reduces the time from diagnosis to treatment. In turn, this allows us to see more patients with the reduced treatment rate, allowing for more successful transplants and curative rates in Central Florida.

Not all donors and recipients match, which requires the technological advances that this new lab will provide. If an identical donor can’t be found for your specific case, a haploidentical donor transplant will be needed. A haploidentical donor is usually a family member who matches at 50 percent, but through the advancements of the Cellular Therapy Lab, a cancer patient has the exact same success rate as a 100 percent match. With Florida’s diverse population, AdventHealth Cancer Institute expects to see more haploidentical patients. With this new lab, we will be able to treat more mismatched donors and provide more transplants to cancer patients close to home.

Fighting Cancer in Our Community Starts with Community

Ending cancer in our community starts with a community effort and with your contributions and support fueling the Cellular Therapy Lab, AdventHealth will achieve a world-class cancer program with a renowned, innovative treatment plan.

Support this cause and join the journey to revolutionize cancer care and treatment in Central Florida and beyond, click here.