“They told me I had less than a year to live, and here I am four years later.”  – Polly Rogers, patient at University of Colorado Cancer Center

It is with the generosity and vision of Joyce Zeff and the Zeff family that Ross Camidge, MD, PhD, is pioneering new treatment options for people like Polly Rogers diagnosed with lung cancer. When Denver philanthropist Joyce Zeff was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in 2014, she was focused on living her life on her own terms and dancing at her grandson’s upcoming bar mitzvah.

While stage IV lung cancer is oftentimes considered a death sentence, Camidge said, “Whilst we would love to turn lung cancer into a curable disease, the immediate goal is to turn it into a long-term controllable disease.” And that is just what his current research is doing with the help of philanthropic support. Zeff made it to her grandson’s bar mitzvah, before passing away in 2015. Zeff and her family created an endowed chair, currently held by Camidge, so others in the Rocky Mountain region would have access to the world-class care Zeff received.

CU President Bruce Benson and Marcy Benson
CU President Bruce Benson and CU First Lady Marcy Benson speak at the 10th Annual Donor Recognition Dinner.

Every year, the Donor Recognition Dinner honors CU’s dedicated philanthropic community and provides updates for both CU Denver and the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. This year, the Daniels Fund, Comcast and Joyce Zeff and the Zeff Family were honored for their outstanding commitment to CU.

2016 Honorees

  • Comcast: Global media and technology company Comcast provides critical resources for students at CU Denver. The company supports learning opportunities in the College of Engineering and Applied Science and the College of Arts & Media, as well as student veterans through the Office of Veteran & Military Student Services.
  • Daniels Fund: Support from the Daniels Fund is central to several programs at both CU Denver and the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. From funding for the Addiction Research and Treatment Services program to scholarships at the Business School and much more, the Daniels Fund is helping CU transform lives in the Denver metro area.
  • Joyce Zeff and the Zeff Family: Zeff’s legacy lives on throughout the entire Denver metro area, and her gift to CU is just one example. The named endowed chair in lung cancer research is allowing breakthroughs in the lab to reach patient bedsides quicker than ever before.
CU First Lady Marcy Benson and leaders
Pictured from left at the Donor Recognition Dinner are Andrea Wagner, Vice Chancellor of Advancement, CU Denver; CU First Lady Marcy Benson; Regina Kilkenny, Chief of Staff, Office of the CU Denver Chancellor; and Leanna Clark, Vice Chancellor of University Communications

Videos detailing the generosity of each honoree were presented at the dinner.

Guests enjoyed a musical performance by CU Denver student group, Voz de la Clave, and mingled with other benefactors, faculty and staff. There were also four activities sponsored by students and faculty from each campus. Activities included learning wellness techniques, an interactive art project, a virtual-reality experiment and a Lego project illustrating mechanisms for preventing dental decay.

CU Denver Chancellor Dorothy Horrell and Nadeen Ibrahim
CU Denver Chancellor Dorothy Horrell stands with CU Denver student Nadeen Ibrahim who was recently named 2017 Colorado Student Leader.

Chancellor Dorothy Horrell gave updates for CU Denver, noting its unique place as Colorado’s only public urban research university. She also recognized the hard work of students around campus, touting the campus’ diversity. Of note, student Nadeen Ibrahim attended and was recognized for her outstanding contribution to CU Denver and her many accomplishments as a pre-med student. Horrell said, “Those of you who have generously invested in CU Denver scholarships help students like Nadeen make the most of their education. Scholarships for these hard-working students are investments in their lives and in Colorado’s future.”

Chancellor Don Elliman gave an overview of the CU Anschutz Medical Campus and recognized the benefactors making the research, education and clinical care possible. Elliman said, “We’ve attracted some of the best minds in medicine and health from around the globe – more than 300 new faculty last year alone.” Much of this growth is because of the continued support of philanthropy and other private support, which reached a record $203 million in the last fiscal year.

Guest contributor: Devin Lynn, Development Writer, Office of Advancement.