Chicago pic

Egypt Cancer Network 57357 & AFNCI (ECN)’s Chicago Chapter organized their first fundraiser, a gala event on Saturday, February 23, 2013 at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago.  Prior to the event , Egypt’s  Consul General, Magued Refaat and his wife  hosted a dinner  attended by 50 prominent Arab-Americans from the Chicago and neighboring area to raise awareness and introduce ECN and its mission to Chicago citizens. ECN is a U.S. based tax deductible 501C3 non-profit organization. Its mission is to support and provide resources to Egyptian hospitals and non-profit organizations focused on cancer. Among the organizations ECN sponsors is the Children’s Cancer Hospital Egypt 57357 (CCHE) Present at the dinner, was Dr. Sherif Abouelnaga, co-founder of  (CCHE)  who spoke about the Hospital’s inception, development, and future expansion.  The dinner was also attended by Dr. Hisham Seify, ECN’s Board President, Fr. Bolous Banoub, ambassador for His Holiness Pope Tawdross II, as well as renowned Egyptian actor Mahmoud Kabil.

The gala event, hosting more than 270 guests, was led by the chapter’s distinguished emcee, Dr. Fouad Teymour of the Illinois Institute of Technology. It kicked off with a warm welcoming speech by the Consul General of Egypt, Maged Refaat who is no stranger to ECN or to its beneficiary, Hospital 57357 since he had hosted a benefit with Dr. Sherif Abouelnaga in Manama, Bahrain in favor of 57357.  His speech highlighted the main ingredients of Hospital 57357’s success mix namely research, motivation , planning, sustainability , and fundraising which are the guidelines for success for any charitable institution.

Proud to be part of ECN, Dr. Hisham Seify talked about his role as chairman of the organization.  Dr. Sherif Abouelnaga, VP of CCHE  for Research, Academic Affairs, and Outreach  included in his presentation eye-opening facts and statistics about the Hospital such as its provision of free quality comprehensive care to all children with cancer, as well as achieving an overall survival rate of 70% within five years of operation.

Also, in his presentation titled “THE HEART OF CHANGE “–, through the story of the inception of the Hospital, Dr. Abouel Naga demonstrated how this project was fueled all along its development and its projection into the future with the earnest desire of its founders and Egyptians from all walks of life to produce real change in healthcare delivery in Egypt; change that ensures the provision of comprehensive world quality care to patients and their families. The starting point was the dream of curing all children with cancer for free which led to the building of a specialized Center for Children with Cancer (3 C’s ) with the vision of developing it into a Children Comprehensive Cancer Care Campus(5C’s).  This vision of a Green Campus with Proton therapy, Health Science Academy, Research Institute, and Palliative Care and Guest House is slowly being realized and planned with each dollar that is donated.

Several more presenters, including Dr. Mark Kieran, Pediatric Medical Neuro-Oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Harvard Medical School and Mahmoud Kabil, well-known Egyptian actor and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for the Middle East and North Africa, also gave very poignant speeches about their ties with hospital 57357 and ECN..  Seven years ago, Dr. Mark Kieran, started working with Dr. Sherif and quickly realized the importance of supporting and collaborating with CCHE which evolved with thehelp of ECN into the institution of a joint Dana Farber Children’s HospitalCancer Center/57357 pediatric oncology fellowship program.  This fellowship ensures that future generations of physicians from Egypt and the Middle East region would be on par with their counterparts in the U.S.

Present on behalf of His Holiness, Pope Tawadros II and the Egyptian Coptic Community, was Father Bolous Banoub.  Fr. Bolous’s relationship with the Children’s Cancer Hospital of Egypt was limited to occasionally visiting a few patients.   His recent visit, which occurred only one week prior to the Chicago event, marks the beginning of abonding with the 57357 institution that can never be broken.

A highlight of the evening was a very moving tribute by Dr. Kamal Ibrahim to Ms. Ola Ghabbour, a co-founder of the hospital, who succumbed to cancer the previous month.   Mrs. Ghabbour was instrumental in getting Hospital 57357 off the ground and ensuring its development and sustainability by rallying the community around it.

Interestingly, among many who expressed their amazement at the Hospital, a good number did not know it existed.  Positive feedback and promises to support ECN and Hospital 57357 were heard all over the place.  This event is just one of many plannedevents around the country to keep our dream alive and help the future become a reality.

ECN extends its deepest thanks to its Chicago Chapter for organizing and hosting this successful fundraising event.