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Gala for Life


By Kim Meyer-Webb | Photography by Sarah Oden | Hair by Rena Lundmark with Salon Underground | Makeup by Vannette Vititow with Barbara Jean | Wardrobe from Barbara Jean

   Her earliest memory of volunteering was during her tenure in the Brownie Program selling Girl Scout cookies. “I walked up and down Grove Street in Abilene. The cookies were in my little red Flyer wagon and they cost, I think, 25 cents a box.  I was able to sell all the cookies, but when I returned home the West Texas wind had blown away all my money because I had not closed the envelope.  That’s funny that I remember this incident today,” Kenan Keyes recalls. From those early days in Texas, Kenan’s community service continues to impact the lives of those around her. In September, she will welcome guests to Gala for Life – a magical evening in the land of Oz – that celebrates the mission fulfillment work of the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

   The Wizard of Oz inspired gala includes live entertainment by the Emerald City Band as well as a walk down the Yellow Brick Road. UAMS Vice Chancellor, Office of Communications & Marketing Leslie Taylor notes there will certainly be some unexpected surprises, but maintains the purpose of the accolades is the Cancer Institute’s finite focus on excellence + providing unparalleled research-driven cancer care to more than 150,000 patients each year. “Honorary chairs of the gala will be UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson and his wife, Dr. Kris Patterson. Proceeds benefit the quest to become NCI designated – a major objective for Chancellor Patterson since joining UAMS in 2018.”


   The National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Centers Program is one of the pillars of the nation’s cancer research initiative. “The UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute aspires to be the first NCI-designated center in Arkansas,” Leslie explains. Designated cancer centers are recognized for exceptional scientific leadership, resources and research. Funding opportunities become available with this NCI designation that support additional collaborations and partnerships. “The designation will bring new clinical trials, therapies and education to all areas of the state – giving Arkansas cancer patients access to new treatments,” she continues.  Under the leadership of Chancellor Patterson, UAMS is comprised of a world-class team of experts that inspire patients to believe in the potential of UAMS as the premier center for healthcare.

   For breast cancer survivors, like Kenan, this beacon of innovative technology and medical exploration is invaluable.  “I became involved with the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute at UAMS in 2000, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Scary ordeal, great results! I had always thought I would volunteer at the Cancer Institute, when I had time. With my cancer diagnosis, it seemed like the time had come.” Her commitment to UAMS is unwavering. As the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute Foundation Fund Board Chairman, Kenan believes UAMS makes quality healthcare more accessible to all Arkansans. “Improving the world-renowned services and research is a top priority at the Cancer Institute. The NCI designation will increase the impact of work throughout the state. “


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