The John Wayne Cancer Institute Auxiliary honored award-winning actor, producer and screenwriter Vince Vaughn, with the “True Grit” Humanitarian Award and internationally recognized medical oncologist Steven J. O’Day, MD, with “The Duke” Special Service Award at the 32nd annual Odyssey Ball, March 25, 2017 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, Beverly Hills. The Best is Yet to Come casino-themed gala fundraiser benefits the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center and is organized by John Wayne Cancer Institute Auxiliary, helmed by president Anita Swift, granddaughter of John Wayne.
A particularly moving tribute was made on behalf of two key members of the Auxiliary family who passed away recently; Jackie Banchik, a three-term Auxiliary president and Joyce Green, Dr. Donald Morton’s “right-hand woman” and founder of the JWCI development department. According to Swift, Banchik loved to say that “if you found a penny, it meant someone in heaven is thinking of you.” With that thought, guests’ tables were scattered with pennies in memory of both women.
In introducing her uncle and Chairman of the Board of the John Wayne Cancer Institute, Patrick Wayne, Swift noted that “back in the late 70’s, Patrick was offered the title role in the original Superman film, but turned it down because he wanted to help care for his father, John Wayne, as he battled cancer…and Patrick’s never stopped battling cancer. He is my Superman!”
Auxiliary president and John Wayne’s granddaughter Anita Swift and flanked by honorees Dr. Steven O’Day and Vince Vaughn.
Nic Pizzolatto, award-winning Executive Producer and writer of HBO’s hit series True Detective presented the “True Grit” Humanitarian Award, established to recognize individuals who embody the American values that were characteristic of Duke Wayne, to actor-producer-writer Vince Vaughn. Dominating the screen in such hits as Wedding Crashers, The Lost World: Jurassic Park and, most recently, the Oscar nominated Hacksaw Ridge as well as True Detective, Pizzolatto heralded Vaughn’s philanthropic work with organizations ranging from Special Olympics to his ongoing dedication to working with veterans.
Since 1981, the family of John Wayne has been committed to pioneering cancer research in memory of their father, who died of cancer. For more than 30 years, the courageous and dedicated researchers at the John Wayne Cancer Institute have made groundbreaking discoveries that have changed the way cancer is detected, diagnosed and treated around the world. The Institute provides hope to cancer patients everywhere.
The event raised more than $700,000 to benefit the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center including a $100,000 donation from Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson in memory of Dr. Donald L. Morton who co-founded the Institute and a $50,000 donation from Ruth Weil, John Wayne Cancer Institute Auxiliary board member and past president.
To open the evening, more than 500 guests were treated to a performance by Southern California’s own four-part harmony quartet, The Moonrays, before turning the stage over to multi-talented writer-actor-producer and performer, the evening’s host, Bobby Herbeck, creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles phenomenon. A long-time supporter of The John Wayne Cancer Institute, Herbeck extolled the accomplishments of the Institute since its formation in 1981 before introducing John Wayne Cancer Institute Auxiliary president and granddaughter of the iconic actor, Anita Swift.
Ted and Gigi McGinley
Photos by Vince Bucci Photography.