It was somewhere between the bells ringing for votes, running back and forth from my PowerPoint presentation to my salmon, Paula Zahn and multiple speakers stalling, when Congressman Mike Castle walked into an ornate Cannon Caucus Room. Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson gave a presentation about him and what he has done that rang heartfelt and true. It was supposed to be about Congressman Mike Castle’s Special Recognition Award by our Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program, but when Congressman Mike Castle walked up to the podium and received a standing ovation before he even said a word, clearly it was about something else. After having left the Hill two weeks ago to work at Prevent Cancer Foundation, I was fresh off of the partisan political boat. So, for me, that is the moment I realized how unifying our bipartisan Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program is.
This was my first event with Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program; however, it was their Eighteenth Annual Action for Cancer Awareness Awards. It fell on September 23rd, a sunny afternoon, perfect for an awards luncheon. An invocation from Father Daniel P. Coughlin, the Chaplin of the U.S. House of Representatives was given followed by an introduction by Lisa McGovern, Executive Director of Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program and spouse of Congressman Jim McGovern and Carolyn R. (“Bo”) Aldigé, Prevent Cancer Foundation’s President and Founder.
Paula Zahn of “On the Case with Paula Zahn” took to the podium as our Mistress of Ceremonies and discussed how cancer has affected her family and what organizations such as the Prevent Cancer Foundation mean to her. Robyn Terry, spouse of Congressman Lee Terry of Nebraska, then presented the Congressional Families Leadership Award to Liz’s Legacy, a charitable program supporting education and cancer research at the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Eppley Cancer Center and Creighton University’s Medical Center Hereditary Cancer Center created by Senator Karnes of Nebraska’s late wife Liz Karnes, who died from ovarian cancer in 2003. Senator Karnes accepted this award with Kalen and Laurel, two of his four daughters – who all remain involved with this wonderful organization.
LuAnn Bennett, spouse of Congressman Jim Moran, then presented the Distinguished Service in Journalism award to fellow Virginia native, Sam Champion (Weather Anchor, Good Morning America). After being diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma, Sam helped educate America about this and other types of skin cancer, reporting and tweeting while undergoing a surgical procedure performed live on television.
Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson was unavoidably detained because of votes and could not make it in time to present the Excellence in Cancer Awareness award to Chef José Andrés (Jaleo, Zaytinya, Oyamel, Café Atlántico, minibar by José Andrés). Lisa McGovern stepped in to present this award to him with a touching speech. Chef Andrés has been a leader in the campaign to improve the food our children eat at school. Through all his efforts to advance our food culture at home and overseas, José is helping everyone to live healthier, happier lives, and to prevent cancer.
Last, but not least, Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson arrived from votes to present Congressman Mike Castle with a Special Recognition Award. As you already know, he received a standing ovation before he even got to the podium. He spoke passionately about his work in Congress on cancer research and hopes that more progress will be made. Congressman Castle received an even larger standing ovation after his moving speech.
Special thanks for our sponsors for making this memorable awards luncheon possible: Amgen, Eisai, GlaxoSmithKline, and the National Association of Broadcasters. Thanks also to our amazing gift bag donors: Queen Bee, CapitalKeys, My Mixed Nuts, and Philosophy.