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Bonnie Hunt, Melina Kanakaredes and Dr. Ruth Westheimer Lend Their Support to Children's Brain Tumor Foundation Benefit

Former Oncology Nurse helps honor heroes of fight against pediatric neuro-oncology

NEW YORK, May 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Bonnie Hunt served as Mistress of Ceremonies at this year's 7th Annual Dream & Promise Awards Gala, held on Wednesday, May 13, 2009, at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square to support the Children's Brain Tumor Foundation, a New York-based 501(c)(3) working nationwide to help kids with brain and spinal cord tumors and cancer. The evening honored Sol J. Barer, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Celgene Corporation, and Stewart Goldman, M.D., Medical Director of Neuro-Oncology at Children's Memorial Hospital, Chicago.

Ms. Hunt is a versatile and accomplished writer, director, producer and an Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG Award nominated actress. Although she is most well-known for her work in the entertainment world, Ms. Hunt spent several years as an oncology nurse at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, making her role as mistress of ceremonies for this evening truly fitting.

Ms. Hunt has appeared on television in Davis Rules, Grand, The Building, Life with Bonnie, and The Bonnie Hunt Show, as well as her current nationally syndicated talk show. Her film credits include Rain Man, Dave, Jerry McGuire, The Green Mile, Jumanji, Random Hearts, Only You, Cheaper By The Dozen, Cheaper By The Dozen 2, Beethoven, Beethoven's 2nd, A Bug's Life, Monsters Inc., Cars, as well the films Stolen Summer, Loggerheads, I Want Someone To Eat Cheese With and Patriots.

Ms. Hunt raises funds to sponsor research for treatments and cures for cancer and rheumatoid arthritis, and she also gives her time and support to organizations such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and American Veterans. Ms. Hunt was recently honored by the John Wayne Cancer Institute Auxiliary with the True Grit Humanitarian Award.

Melina Kanakaredes, the Foundation's celebrity spokesperson, also participated in the event. She served as mistress of ceremonies for last year's benefit and has subsequently recorded a public service advertisement for the Foundation and promoted its concerns at every opportunity.

Ms. Kanakaredes currently stars in the CBS series CSI: New York, which is in its fifth hit season. She has also taken on the role of writing for the show. Her first penned episode of CSI: New York airs May 15th, 2009. Prior to CSI: New York, Ms. Kanakaredes starred for five seasons on the series Providence. For her performance, she received the 2000 TV Guide Award for Favorite Actress in a Drama. While on the show, Melina made her directing debut. In 2003, she gave birth to her second child, took to the stage as Sally Bowles in the Broadway musical Cabaret and shot the independent film Into the Fire.

Ms. Kanakaredes was recently cast in Fox 2000's fantasy adaptation-adventure of the feature film Percy Jackson, in which she will play the Greek mythological icon Athena. The film will be directed by Chris Columbus and is slated for a February 2010 release.

Ruth Westheimer again aided the Foundation's fundraising efforts by allowing us to auction a luncheon with her.

Dr. Westheimer may best be known for having pioneered talking explicitly about sex on radio and television, but that is only a small part of her rich and diversified life. Born in Germany in 1928, she went to Switzerland at the age of ten to escape the Holocaust, which wiped out her entire immediate family. At the age of sixteen she went to then Palestine and the Haganah, the Israeli freedom fighters, and was trained to be a sniper and was seriously wounded in a bomb blast. She later moved to Paris to study at the Sorbonne and in 1956 went to the U.S. where she obtained her Masters Degree in Sociology from the Graduate Faculty of the New School of Social Research and Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) in the Interdisciplinary Study of the Family from Columbia University Teacher's College.

Her work for Planned Parenthood led her to study human sexuality under Dr. Helen Singer Kaplan at New York Hospital-Cornell University Medical Center, where she became an Adjunct Associate Professor. She is currently an Adjunct Professor at N.Y.U., and a fellow of both Calhoun College at Yale and Butler College at Princeton as well as a fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine. She is currently teaching at both Yale and Princeton. She also serves as the Honorary President of the Council on Sexuality and Aging at the National Sexuality Resource Center. She has a private practice in New York and lectures worldwide. She is the author of 35 books, the executive producer of four documentaries and has her own web page (

This year's Dream & Promise Award Honoree was Sol J. Barer, Ph.D. He has been Chief Executive Officer of Celgene Corporation since May 1, 2006 and Chairman since January 1, 2007. He has served in a number of leadership roles since the company's founding. During his tenure, the company has grown from a small biotechnology group that was spun out from Celanese Corporation to the world's third largest biotechnology company with a market capitalization of over $20 billion and operations in more than 65 countries.

In addition to his work with Celgene Corporation, Dr. Barer serves on the Board of Trustees of Rutgers University and BioNJ, on the Board of Directors of PhRMA and Amicus Therapeutics, and on the Board of the Brooklyn College Foundation. He has previously served as a Commissioner of the NJ Commission on Science and Technology.

Dr. Barer received a Ph.D. from Rutgers University, and was awarded the Annual Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2007 and The Hall of Distinguished Alumni Award in 2008. Dr. Barer has received the 2006 Winthrop-Sears Medal from the Chemists Club and the Chemical Heritage Foundation, the 2006 Corporate Leadership Award from The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, the Star Award of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the 2005 Emerald Entrepreneurial and Excellence Award, the Albert Einstein Award in Life Sciences from Global Capital Associates and the Jerusalem Fund/Israel, the Insight Award from The Billy Foundation, and the DART/NYU Biotechnology Achievement Award in Applied Biotechnology.

In 2008, he was granted the Lifetime Master Entrepreneur Award by Ernst & Young, and was given the first Dr. Sol J. Barer Award for Vision, Innovation and Leadership from BioNJ. More recently, Dr. Barer received the Odyssey Award for Leadership in Translational Medicine from the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest.

Receiving this year's Pioneer Award for Pediatric Neuro-Oncology was Stewart Goldman, M.D. Dr. Goldman is the Medical Director of Neuro-Oncology and Gus Foundation Chair of Neuro-Oncology at Children's Memorial Hospital, Chicago. He is also Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. Dr. Goldman serves as a director of the hospital's Falk Brain Tumor Center, one of the world's leading centers for pediatric brain tumor diagnosis and treatment. He is highly involved in clinical research aimed at developing new treatments for patients with brain tumors that could profoundly improve clinical care and subsequently increase survival rates for these patients. He has described his guiding philosophy as the treatment of children, not just their tumors.

Dr. Goldman is also a member of the Children's Oncology Group CNS disease committee and is the Children's Memorial principal investigator for the National Cancer Institute-sponsored Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium where he is a member of the consortium's steering, scientific, new agents and angiogenesis committees. He is also the site Principal Investigator for the Children's Oncology Group Phase I Consortium.

The 7th Annual Dream & Promise Gala, produced by Charlotte Simon Productions, is the signature fundraising event for Children's Brain Tumor Foundation. Funds raised support the organization's program and education efforts and helps fund research for treatment and progress toward cures.

The Children's Brain Tumor Foundation (CBTF) was founded in 1988 by a group of parents, physicians and friends to improve the treatment, quality of life, and the long-term outlook for children with brain and spinal cord tumors through research support, education, and advocacy to families and survivors. Our goal is to ensure parents and children know they are not alone in their struggle.

Now in our 21st year, we serve children and families nationwide affected by brain and spinal cord tumors. We provide support to families in the form of information and delivered online and via our toll-free line by professional pediatric oncology social workers. We help parents network via our Parent-2-Parent Network (P2P). We deliver hundreds of P2P Bags containing valuable information and support products. We also fund research to speed treatment and cures both nationally and internationally.

Please visit our website at

SOURCE Children's Brain Tumor Foundation
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