Aug. 22, 2016 | Carol and Dr. Porter Rodgers Jr. are going back in time, and they’re taking about 900 people with them.
As co-chairs of the Gala for Life fundraising event, the couple is helping transform Little Rock’s Statehouse Convention Center into the glitz and glamour of 1960’s Las Vegas. The event, which is the largest annual fundraiser for the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, will unfold at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 30. “Guests can look forward to a fabulous evening full of surprises,” said Carol Rodgers.
Highlights will include a cocktail hour, four-course dinner and dancing to Las Vegas’ own Rat Pack Tribute Show, featuring the music of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.
“The music, decorations and specialty cocktails will immerse our guests in the elegance of the Rat Pack era,” said Carol Rodgers, adding that the menu prepared by Little Rock Marriott chefs is “divine.”
The Little Rock couple was happy to oblige when asked to chair the Gala for Life by UAMS Cancer Institute Director Peter Emanuel, M.D. After witnessing multiple family members and friends experience cancer, they understand the impact the Cancer Institute has on Arkansas.
“People need to look no further than right here at UAMS for outstanding cancer care,” said Porter Rodgers, M.D., a UAMS College of Medicine graduate and retired general surgeon. Rodgers also completed his residency at UAMS, serving as chief resident.
They were especially pleased that the money raised by the Gala for Life will benefit the UAMS Radiation Oncology Center, the only facility in Arkansas to provide radiation therapy for both adult and pediatric cancer patients.
The center offers the most advanced radiation therapy and radiosurgery procedures in the state, including Gamma Knife, used for the precise treatment of brain tumors, and Tomotherapy, which combines 3D images from CT scans with highly targeted radiation beams. It also houses the state’s only two identical Varian TrueBeam STx linear accelerators capable of delivering precision external beam radiation with ultra-high dose rates.
In July, internationally recognized physician-scientist Fen Xia, M.D., Ph.D., joined UAMS as chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology. In her clinical practice, Xia specializes in radiation therapy of the central nervous system. Her research focus is in DNA damage response and repair and the impact of these processes on genomic stability, aging, carcinogenesis, tumor response and normal tissue injury in cancer treatment.
“We are incredibly fortunate to have Dr. Xia provide her expertise and leadership at UAMS,” said Porter Rodgers. Funds raised by the Gala for Life will allow the department to expand its educational, clinical and research programs.
The two, who split their time between their home in Little Rock and working farm in Woodruff County, are pleased to have introduced new people to the Gala for Life and work of the Cancer Institute.
“As the Gala chairs, it’s a privilege to give others the chance to support the important work going on at the Cancer Institute. Many people don’t realize what a wonderful facility we have right here in Little Rock, and we’ve been honored to share that,” said Carol Rodgers, who also is an active volunteer in the Cancer Institute Auxiliary.
Their work has paid off, as the event is sold out and placing potential guests on a waiting list. For the first time in its 21-year history, the Gala for Life has two presenting sponsors: Highlands Oncology Group and the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation. The couple also has shown their support by joining Mary Kay and F.E. Joyce, M.D., and family to match donations made that evening.
“We’re looking forward to making this Gala for Life the most successful ever,” said Porter Rodgers. For information about the Gala for Life, call the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute Foundation at (501) 526-2277.