On Saturday, June 4, 2022, the GI Research Foundation Champions for a Cure Ball celebrated the courageous patients and devoted physician-scientists fighting to prevent, treat, and cure digestive diseases. Held at The Geraghty, a chic event space in Pilsen, the event marked the triumphant return to an in-person gala experience, and was a smash success – raising $1.5 million for research at the University of Chicago Medicine Digestive Diseases Center.

Guests mingled during the strolling dinner before the evening’s program (view photos of the fun here). Guest emcee Kasey Chronis, FOX32 news reporter and proud UChicago Medicine Crohn’s patient, offered a warm welcome to supporters in the room and to those joining via livestream.

Yekaterina Chudnovsky, GIRF Board President, kicked off the evening with an impassioned speech on the importance of colorectal cancer research and treatment – a disease affecting more and younger Americans each year – before announcing her record pledge of $3 million dollars to GIRF to fund colorectal cancer research.

GIRF Scientific Advisor David T. Rubin, MD, Joseph B. Kirsner Professor of Medicine, Chief of the Section of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition, and Co-Director of Digestive Diseases at the University of Chicago Medicine, delivered his remarks highlighting the legacy of GIRF’s partnership with UChicago. He also highlighted research innovations supported by GIRF, and  introduced presentations by UChicago physician-scientists Sonia Kupfer, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, and Cambrian Liu, PhD, Research Associate.

Andrew Aronsohn, MD, presenting Ira Hanan, MD, with his 2022 Ball Honoree Plaque

The evening included two special awards: A lifetime of service award presented to gastroenterologist Ira Hanan, MD, Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago Medicine; and the Joseph B. Kirsner Award, presented to David T. Rubin, MD.

Howard Grill, GIRF VP of Finance, presenting David T. Rubin, MD, with the Joseph B. Kirsner Award

Following the awards, Board and Ball Committee member Howard Grill, GIRF Vice President of Finance, announced Sy and Nancy Taxman’s generous additional pledge of $50,000 to GIRF in Dr. Rubin’s honor, before presenting Dr. Rubin with a one-of-a-kind gift and GIRF-heirloom – the solid-gold watch given to Dr. Kirsner on his 90th Birthday by long-time patient and friend, King Hassan II of Morocco.

Finally, in a poignant video, Trevor Long and his family shared his complex journey with ulcerative colitis. A promising young athlete, at just 16 years old, Trevor suddenly developed troubling symptoms and was given the difficult diagnosis of ulcerative colitis. After enduring years of chronic illness, Trevor underwent colectomy surgery, and after recovery, is in long-term remission. Trevor credits the University of Chicago Medicine Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center’s proactive care with giving him his life back. Trevor encouraged others struggling with a chronic condition or frightening diagnosis not to give up.

“There is always a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Trevor, “There is always a chance for you to live a better quality of life.” Learn more about Trevor and his family.

Ball guests then raised their paddles, pledging more than $175,000 to support cutting-edge research at UChicago Medicine, and offset costs for two transformational pieces of equipment, a GeoMX Digital Spatial Profiler and a COLOVIEW Colonoscope.

A recording of the evening’s program is on YouTube. To support research projects like those presented at the Champions for a Cure Ball and more, please visit: https://giresearchfoundation.org/donate/