The John Wayne Cancer Institute Auxiliary honors Steven J. O’day MD and actor Vince Vaughn at 32nd annual Odyssey Ball

Internationally recognized medical oncologist Steven J. O’Day, MD, was honored with the “The Duke” Special Service Award and multi-award-winning actor, producer and screenwriter Vince Vaughn with the “True Grit” Humanitarian Award at the 32nd annual Odyssey Ball, Saturday, March 25 at the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire Hotel, Beverly Hills. The Best is Yet to Come casino-themed fundraiser benefits the John Wayne Cancer Institute (JWCI) at Providence Saint John’s Health Center.

The event raised more than $700,000 to benefit the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center including a $100,000 donation from Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson in memory of Dr. Donald L. Morton who co-founded the Institute and a $50,000 donation from Ruth Weil, John Wayne Cancer Institute Auxiliary board member and past president.

Michael States, former Clinical Program Director for the former Wellness Community, now the Cancer Support Community Benjamin Center, celebrated the accomplishments of honoree Steven J. O’Day, MD, who knew early on how vital the psychological and emotional support for cancer patients and their families was to comprehensive cancer patient care. “He recognizes that a diagnosis of cancer is, in its truest form, a family diagnosis. While cancer is something that is happening in their lives, it does not define them. He is a crucible for their questions, their hopes and their fears.”

Daniel F. Kelly, John Wayne Cancer Institute Professor of Neuroscience & Neurosurgery and Director of the Brain Tumor Center & Pituitary Disorders Program at Providence Saint John’s Health Center presented “The

Duke” Special Service Award to Dr. O’Day, Professor of Medical Oncology, Director of Immuno-Oncology and Director of Clinical Research at the John Wayne Cancer Institute. He is recognized as one of the preeminent melanoma specialists in the world and has been at the forefront of new drug development in melanomas over the last two decades.

Nic Pizzolatto, award-winning Executive Producer and writer of HBO’s hit series True Detective presented the “True Grit” Humanitarian Award, established to recognize individuals who embody the American values that were characteristic of Duke Wayne, to actor-producer-writer Vince Vaughn. Pizzolatto heralded Vaughn’s philanthropic work with organizations ranging from Special Olympics to his ongoing dedication to working with veterans.

Since 1981, the family of John Wayne has been committed to pioneering cancer research in memory of their father, who died of cancer. For more than 30 years, the researchers at the John Wayne Cancer Institute have made groundbreaking discoveries that have changed the way cancer is detected, diagnosed and treated around the world.

Established in 1982 by two breast cancer survivors, the John Wayne Cancer Institute Auxiliary is currently helmed by president Anita Swift, granddaughter of John Wayne. The Auxiliary has raised more than $19 million to fund a wide array of the Institute’s priorities including groundbreaking research, vital new laboratory equipment and the nationally renowned Surgical Oncology Fellowship Program, which trains the next generation of surgical oncologists. For more information, visit

—        Submitted by Pam Giangregorio, Katy Sweet & Associates Public Relations