When cover model Christy Turlington Burns lost her father to lung cancer in 1997, she dedicated her life to crusading for smoking cessation and lung cancer awareness. From launching the anti-smoking and lung cancer resource website called Smoking is Ugly, to acting as spokesperson for the cause through her affiliation with organizations like the American Cancer Society, Christy has been relentless in lending her time to the cause.
Fast forward ten years and one can see that Christy’s mission is far from over.
At an event this summer at the Steven Weiss Studio in New York City for Donna Karan's Urban Zen Foundation, Christy meets a young woman who has just started her personal crusade against the same cancer that killed her mother in April 2006.
The woman was Kellie Lerner, a full-time attorney at Labaton Sucharow & Rudoff in New York, who co-founded Roseann’s Gift, a charitable organization bearing the name of Kellie’s late mother, Roseann. The charity is committed to funding research initiatives aimed to improve the early detection of lung cancer and to challenge societal attitudes associated with the disease.
This month, Christy is honored to serve as the guest of honor at the Roseann’s Gift inaugural benefit at the Manhattan Penthouse, located at 80 Fifth Avenue. The event will take place September 18, 2007 from 7:30 to 10:30 pm.
Like Christy, Kellie was shocked to learn that lung cancer research is one of the most underfunded types of cancers in the U.S. In 2005, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimated it spent only $1,708 per lung cancer death compared to $13,947 per breast cancer death, $10,214 per prostate cancer death, and $4,655 per colorectal cancer death.
Some experts suggest that the reason lung cancer research has been poorly funded is because of the stigma associated it – namely that smokers are to blame for their illness. It’s one of many societal misconceptions Kellie intends to exploit in her campaign. “No one deserves any illness,” she says. “Lung cancer doesn’t characterize who you are as a person.”
To learn more about the charity, please visit: www.roseannsgift.org.