John Wayne Cancer Institute Holds 22nd Annual Odyssey Ball

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In an impassioned plea to the over 800 guests gathered at the Beverly Hilton Hotel for the annual Odyssey Ball to dig deep into their pockets, a very lively mistress of ceremonies, Jamie Lee Curtis, kicked off the evening saying, “I love people helping people, and I’m here because I care.”

Wearing a hot pink wig that belonged to Katie Westbrook, a 15-year-old cancer patient whom she met at a hospital, Curtis told the story of this young person “fighting for her life every single moment of the day.” When she passed away, Curtis asked Katie’s mom if she could have the wig as a tribute to Katie’s battle with this most dreaded disease.

The honorees this year included broadcast icon Larry King, who received the True Grit Award, and John Wayne Cancer Institute Senior Vice President Joyce Green, who received the Special Service Award, nicknamed “The Duke.” King joked about the fact that he has two young boys which “I did without Viagra.” On a more serious note, King said that fighting cancer “is a battle that requires all of us to keep fighting,” adding, “Someday there will be no fancy dinners and no awards because cancer is cured, but in the meantime the fight will go on until we see a happy ending.”

As a special tribute to John Wayne, who would have turned 100 on May 26, Ethan Wayne presented a check for $1 million on behalf of the entire Wayne family to help the John Wayne Cancer Institute continue its efforts to find a cure for cancer.

– Beverly Cohn, Editor-at-Large, Santa Monica Mirror

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