December 2015

Turning Wine into Wilmot Discoveries

Danny and Stency Wegman, Delores Conway, and Joel Seligman

For the last 15 years, the Toast to Your Health Fine Wine Auction (see photos) has played sommelier to University of Rochester Medical Center endeavors, pairing notable wines—and food—with philanthropic support for vital research and patient care endeavors. This year’s event, which took place November 14 at the Robert B. Wegman Conference Facility, netted $1 million in support for blood cancer research at Wilmot Cancer Institute.

For blood cancers—leukemia, lymphoma, myelodysplastic syndrome, and others—advances in research have meant more adults and children are now surviving. Over its 40-year history of having an impact on cancer care in the Rochester area and around the world, Wilmot Cancer Institute has been a leader in establishing disease classification systems, advancing technology and therapies, and influencing the national agenda for clinical trials.

Thanks to honorary chairs Tom and Colleen Wilmot, valued partners Danny and Stency Wegman, Sherwood Deutsch, and Michael Misch, and all of the sponsors and attendees, the auction has given Wilmot Cancer Institute crucial resources that will help enhance its capabilities in translational research. This includes support for the recruitment of an internationally renowned laboratory researcher and funding for strategic investments in specialized equipment and infrastructure.

Currently, the UR Medicine leukemia team’s discoveries in the growth of leukemia stem cells are guiding the next level of investigation in labs across the country. And the lymphoma team is investigating why cancer cells escape the robust activities of healthy immune cells and if it’s possible to reprogram cancer cells into tumor fighters.

“At a time when we’re poised to make the biggest discoveries, the national investment in research is at record low levels,” said Jonathan W. Friedberg, M.D., M.M.Sc., director of the Wilmot Cancer Institute and Samuel E. Durand Chair in Medicine. “Centers like Wilmot need to depend on philanthropy to fill in the gap.”

Generous gifts to the Wilmot Cancer Institute fuel transformative research that is matched by world-class care, giving patients the best chance to enjoy new beginnings and the fullest lives possible.

See for yourself in these two: blood cancer patient victory stories.

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Rolling Out the Recognition

Loyalty has its honors.

Now, loyalty also carries with it some public recognition. In October, the University launched the Rochester Loyal Honor Roll, a searchable, web-based directory that recognizes all donors who have given to any University annual fund for two or more consecutive years.

Currently, there are more than 23,000 Rochester Loyal members who play a vital role in strengthening faculty support, increasing student scholarship support, making the latest technology available to the University community, ensuring the delivery of patient and family-centered medical care, and much more.

You can see the names of those 23,000+ supporters by visiting the Honor Roll site.

With the Honor Roll, the University recognizes and shares its gratitude with its Rochester Loyal members and stresses the importance of giving throughout one’s lifetime. The thousands of names are a visual reminder of the collective impact being created every day of the year.

“The Rochester Loyal program doesn’t focus on dollar amounts,” says Martha Krohn, associate vice president of engagement. “The intent is to thank our donors for their thoughtful generosity every year. One year turns into two, then five, and sometimes 50, and for that we are most grateful.”

Rochester Loyal members are recognized based on their years of consecutive giving. The recognition levels are: Blue (2–4 years), Yellow (5–9 years), Gold (10–19 years), and Platinum (20+ years).

In addition to placement in the Honor Roll, Rochester Loyal membership includes perks such as early notification of Meliora Weekend entertainment as well as additional exclusive University communications throughout the year. 

To be included in the Rochester Loyal Honor Roll, renew your membership or give to the University in consecutive years. Starting is as easy as making a gift today.

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Rochester Alumni Meet the Challenge

Alumni in San Francisco help clean up the Lands End Trail. The service project, held in conjunction with our annual Wilson Day to support community service, is just one way alumni get involved with the University to support the greater good.  

Nothing fuels the competitive spirit more than a contest among friends. Or among fellow Rochester alumni. Add a strong sense of geographic pride, and you have a new and fun way to support the University of Rochester and its medical center. 

The Regional Alumni Challenge carves Rochester alumni into six U.S. regions, and pits them against each other, all in the name of creating meaningful impact through giving. Between now and June 30, alumni gifts of any amount to the University will count toward the Alumni Challenge and boost the giver’s regional participation rate. Next summer, the University will calculate highest rate of giving among the regions and announce the winner. 

The program is a new partnership between Annual Giving and Alumni Relations and follows The Meliora Challenge’s recently concluded series of regionally focused events from coast to coast. Those large-scale events promoted the Campaign to alumni in their home cities, encouraging a continuous connection to the University.

Over the past few months, the University has sharpened its focus on regionally based alumni events. Hundreds take place every year, all across the country. Many are managed by alumni volunteers and they include happy hours, volunteer outings, thought-provoking panel discussions and much more. On December 9 in Seattle, four Rochester alumni (from three different schools) participated in a panel discussion on the intersection of technology, commerce and music. 

Alumni giving has a positive effect on how the University is ranked, and, of course, more giving means more resources for programming and financial aid—and it’s also a consideration for foundations and corporations making philanthropic decisions.

Significantly increasing giving from alumni starts with students. On average, half of the senior class has been giving back, which is a testament of their pride and investment in the future.

Kayleigh Rae Stampfler ’08 of Rochester, is a young alumna whose gift this year counted toward the Mid-Atlantic Region’s total. “I donate to the University as a way to say thank you and ensure future students have the same opportunities for success as I did,” Stampfler said.

As of December 14, Stampfler and her fellow alumni from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware lead the Alumni Challenge by less than one percentage point over the South. Statistics are updated weekly.

Want to help your region win the Alumni Challenge? Make a gift today!

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