Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) honored SU2C Co-Founder and award-winning journalist Katie Couric for her dedication to cancer advocacy at a star-studded fundraising event here Saturday night.

A portion of the proceeds will be devoted to research on colorectal cancer, the disease that took her first husband’s life and launched her tireless career as a cancer advocate.

The cancer-fighting initiative also announced a multi-year, multi-million dollar commitment from American Airlines, welcoming the company together with Merck as a new major donor. Also announced were new major commitments from Bristol-Myers Squibb Company and Genentech, a member of the Roche Group. With Bristol-Myers Squibb and Genentech, Major League Baseball, MasterCard, Cancer Treatment Centers of America and The Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research were also celebrated at the event for their significant, long-standing support of Stand Up To Cancer.

Presented by the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), the “Standing Room Only” event was chaired by Jim Toth and Reese Witherspoon, and MasterCard President and CEO Ajay Banga and his wife Ritu, and featured special performances by Tony Bennett, Sheryl Crow, Jamie Foxx and Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum.

Upon receiving her award, Katie Couric said, “This honor means the world to me, but the real heroes are the scientists and doctors who are working day and night to find new ways to help patients fighting cancer. My fellow co-founders and I are in awe of what you do, and it is our incredible privilege to share the major strides that you’ve made – and the hope you’ve already given so many patients – by collaborating through Stand Up To Cancer.”

American Airlines’ new collaboration with Stand Up To Cancer will actively engage its employees and customers to grow the SU2C grassroots community, while increasing awareness of cancer research, prevention, diagnosis and treatment. American Airlines is dedicated to supporting causes that are personal to its employees as well as its customers.

“We couldn’t be more pleased to support Stand Up To Cancer, an organization that is taking a very unique and progressive approach to solving the cancer equation,” said Elise Eberwein, Executive Vice President, People and Communications at American Airlines. “Their mission to share research opportunities and results across a variety of populations and aggregate those findings for the betterment of all synchs up perfectly with our own calling to deliver seamless service. Further, with an employee population of over 100,000 employees, cancer is unfortunately more familiar to many of us than we want. We’re hopeful that our own team members could potentially benefit from research advanced through Stand Up’s collaborative approach.”

Additional celebrities and notable guests in attendance included Alec Baldwin, Ken Jeong, Maura Tierney, Joe Torre, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, Emmy Rossum, Alice Eve, Donna Karan, Scott Lagasse Jr. and Alana Stewart. In addition to Couric, members of SU2C Council of Founders and Advisors Sherry Lansing, Lisa Paulsen, Rusty Robertson, Sue Schwartz, Pam Williams, Ellen Ziffren, Kathleen Lobb; and SU2C President Sung Poblete, Ph.D. also attended.

“Whether it’s the next great performance or the next scientific breakthrough, our imagination and ambition make these milestones possible,” said event chair Jim Toth. “Tonight, we honor and celebrate those who’ve come together to imagine a new world – a world in which every cancer patient becomes a survivor.”

Colorectal cancer survivor David McGowan, who credits Katie’s awareness efforts with saving his life, helped present the award to Couric. The evening also brought together cancer survivors with the SU2C doctors who treated them. Dr. Shannon Maude of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, a member of the SU2C-St. Baldrick’s Pediatric Cancer Dream Team, joined her patient Emily Hunt, a 16 year-old who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age 7 and was treated with an immunotherapy 18 months ago; she remains in remission today. Dr. Jedd Wolchok of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the co-leader of the SU2C-American Cancer Society Lung Cancer Dream Team, joined Karen Taphorn, a patient diagnosed with metastatic melanoma that spread to her lungs; she was treated with a combination of immunotherapy drugs and is now stable.

“When we Stand Up To Cancer, we are putting this insidious disease on notice that we won’t back down – that each and every one of us can make a difference. Fighting cancer is an all-hands proposition. MasterCard is privileged to be one of those hands,” said event chairs Ajay and Ritu Banga. “Cancer is personal. It’s indiscriminate. It’s soulless. And its time is running out, if not in our lifetimes, then in our children’s – but soon!”

“At Merck, we believe strongly that advancing innovative science and the care of patients with cancer requires collaboration,” said Dr. David Kaufman, executive director, Oncology Clinical Research at Merck Research Laboratories. “Our support of this initiative stems from our commitment to patients and recognizes the tremendous impact that Stand Up To Cancer continues to have on the cancer community.”

“Bristol-Myers Squibb remains a long-time supporter of Stand Up To Cancer, as we have a shared mission of increasing survivorship for the cancer community,” said Murdo Gordon, senior vice president and head of Worldwide Markets, Bristol-Myers Squibb. “We will continue to partner with others to relentlessly pursue research that may positively impact patients, and thank Stand Up To Cancer for their enduring determination to fight this disease.”

“We recognize SU2C as an important ally in the fight against cancer, and share a mission to advance science to better treat and one day possibly find a cure,” said Troy Cox, senior vice president, BioOncology at Genentech. “We are proud to join forces with SU2C, because cancer is a formidable opponent and it will require every one of us coming together to beat it.”

American Airlines and Merck & Co., Inc., join Founding Donor Major League Baseball, MasterCard, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Genentech and the Sidney Kimmel Foundation for Cancer Research as major donors. Bloomberg Philanthropies, CVS Health, Eli Lilly, Fifth Third Bank, Fox Family Cancer Research Funding Trust, KWF (the Dutch Cancer Society), Pfizer, the Safeway Foundation, Sean Parker Foundation, Siemens, Oakland A’s Owner and Managing Partner Lew Wolff and the Laura Ziskin Family Trust are also among SU2C’s significant donors.

Collaborators include The Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research, American Cancer Society, Cancer Research Institute, Cancer Research UK, Farrah Fawcett Foundation, HPV & Anal Cancer Foundation, Melanoma Research Alliance, National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance, Prostate Cancer Foundation, St. Baldrick’s Foundation and The V Foundation for Cancer Research. The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) provides scientific oversight and grants administration.

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