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Israel Cancer Research Fund honours women of action

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From left, Jill Reitman, Emmanuelle Gattuso, Dr. Meredith Irwin and Lynda Reeves, were honoured at the Israel Cancer Research Fund’s Women of Action luncheon. [Susan Minuk photo]

TORONTO — The 12th annual Women of Action luncheon raised more than $400,000 for the Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF).

 Some 400 guests attended the luncheon at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto on April 9 to pay tribute to four women who have made a difference though their achievements in business and medicine and their contribution to the community.

Lynda Reeves, founder and publisher of the Canadian House & Home magazine, received the inaugural Carole Tanenbaum Women of Action Business Award for her contribution to the business community.

For the past six years, Reeves, together with her team, have designed and decorated the grand-prize show house for the fall lottery in support of the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation, helping to raise more than $40 million dollars for the cause.

Tanenbaum, the creator of the Carole Tanenbaum Vintage Collection and a longtime supporter of the ICRF, said that as a past Woman of Action business honoree “it is gratifying to continue to award outstanding women in business for their accomplishments and success,” adding that she hopes the award will inspire “all women to pursue their goals and follow their dreams.”

Honoree Jill Reitman, a community leader, received the Vicki Campbell “VAST” Community Award. The VAST award was established in 2012 to honour the late Campbell, who devoted much of her life to enhancing the lives of people in Toronto, Israel, and around the world. Campbell was an ICRF Women of Action honoree in 2009.

Reitman thanked the ICRF for giving her the “opportunity to serve as a role model for others and to inspire the next generation to action. I thank them for the opportunity to pay tribute to an inspiring and wonderful friend of mine – Vicki Campbell.”

Honoree Emmanuelle Gattuso is a breast cancer survivor who became an advocate for breast cancer patients. Along with her husband, Allan Slaight, Gattuso has raised $25 million to establish the Gattuso Rapid Diagnostic Centre at the Princess Margaret Centre, which is a model for other cancer centres in Canada and beyond.

Honoree Dr. Meredith Irwin is a clinician-scientist who has discovered several novel functions of genes that belong to the “p53” family. Her studies are aimed at unravelling the mystery of how genes are involved in pathways that lead to the development of cancer, and how they determine the sensitivity of cancer cells to therapies.

“We are delighted to celebrate four deserving women as this year’s Women of Action for their contribution to our community,” said ICRF president Bryna Goldberg. “We are honoured that they have chosen to help ICRF in our important mission of raising funds to support cancer scientists working in universities and cancer labs throughout Israel.”

Since its inception in 2002, Women of Action has funded 40 Israeli scientists and raised more than $3 million for ICRF.

Luncheon guest Elaine Todres, a cancer survivor, said that if we haven’t been touched by cancer directly, then we have been touched through our families. She added that it’s “extremely important for there to be a wide societal understanding of the need for research and changes in clinical care and that’s why I am here.”

The Women of Action presenting sponsor was RBC, and the event co-chairs were Debra Campbell and Wendy Kady.

The recipients of ICRF funds, which include Nobel Prize winners, have been engaged in groundbreaking research that has resulted in the development of early diagnostic devices and new drugs for leukemia, bone marrow cancer, breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

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