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The Mandela Family To Be Honored At The John Wayne Cancer Institute Auxiliary's 29th Annual Odyssey Ball On April 5, 2014

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Sept. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Mandela Family will be honored with the "True Grit" Humanitarian Award at the 29th annual Odyssey Ball, Saturday, April 5, 2014 at the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire Hotel, Beverly Hills.  Anton Bilchik, MD, PhD, FACS, Professor of Surgery and Chief of Medicine, John Wayne Cancer Institute at Saint John's Health Center, will be presented the "The Duke" Special Service Award.   The yearly fundraising event benefits the John Wayne Cancer Institute (JWCI) at Saint John's Health Center and is organized by the John Wayne Cancer Institute Auxiliary. 

"The Wayne Family is truly honored to present the 'True Grit' Award to the Mandela Family," said Patrick Wayne, Chairman of the Board at JWCI and son of the legendary actor John Wayne.  "Their spirit, fortitude and strength in ending apartheid and easing human suffering inspire us all and is unsurpassed as is our commitment to eradicate cancer and provide hope to cancer patients around the globe."  

The Mandela Family will be honored with the "True Grit" Award for continuing the mission of former President of South Africa and Nobel Peace Laureate Nelson Mandela who helped bring an end to apartheid.  As global advocates for human and civil rights, democracy, reconciliation, mutual respect and tolerance, the family is preserving the history, heritage and legacy.  A member of the African National Congress party beginning in the 1940s, Nelson Mandela was a leader against the white minority's oppressive regime in a racially divided South Africa.  His actions landed him in prison for nearly three decades and made him the face of the anti-apartheid movement both within his country and internationally.  His family also suffered under the regime and was imprisoned and sentenced to house arrest.  In 1994, Nelson Mandela became the first black president of South Africa, forming a multiethnic government to oversee the country's transition.  The Mandela Family has never wavered in their devotion to democracy, equality and learning.  For information, please visit or

"It gives us great pleasure to celebrate the remarkable accomplishments of Dr. Bilchik and his commitment to our mission," said Anita Swift, Auxiliary President.  "His worldwide collaborations and dedication to advance knowledge of cancer research and treatment, embody all that 'The Duke' Award symbolizes."

Also hailing from South Africa, Anton Bilchik, MD, PhD, FACS, Professor of Surgery and Chief of Medicine at JWCI, will be honored with "The Duke" Special Service Award.  Dr. Bilchik is an internationally recognized surgical oncologist who has pioneered techniques to improve staging in colon cancer and minimally invasive approaches for liver and pancreatic cancer.  In 2001, Dr Bilchik was awarded a major National Cancer Institute (NCI) grant which was successfully renewed. He has continuously led JWCI's participation in international multicenter clinical trials, the results of which have led to improvements in national quality standards in cancer care.  Considered one of the premier figures in modern oncology, he is an active member on the editorial board of four cancer journals and has written over 200 publications.  Dr. Bilchik has received numerous awards and accolades, has been honored by the American Cancer Society, the American College of Surgeons and recently by the Anti-Defamation League with its annual "Humanitarian Award."  He has been listed as one of "America's Top Surgeons" for ten years in a row.  He is founder of the California Oncology Research Institute, a nonprofit organization that supports cancer research and education internationally and in underserved communities.

About the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Saint John's Health Center
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 courageous and dedicated researchers at the John Wayne Cancer Institute (JWCI) have made groundbreaking discoveries that have changed the way cancer is detected, diagnosed and treated around the world.  Today, the tradition of excellence continues as JWCI spearheads new research advances, while training the next generation of leaders in the fight against cancer through its renowned Surgical Oncology Fellowship Program.  The Institute's programs focus on melanoma, breast, neuro, prostate and gastrointestinal cancers, as well as innovative research in cancer genomics, molecular biomarkers, and chemo- and immunotherapies.  With its unique ability to rapidly turn scientific discoveries into novel approaches for early detection and treatment, JWCI provides immediate hope to cancer patients everywhere.  For more information, please visit

About the John Wayne Cancer Institute Auxiliary
Established in 1982 by two breast cancer survivors, the JWCI Auxiliary is currently helmed by President Anita Swift, granddaughter of John Wayne.  The Auxiliary has raised more than $18 million to fund a wide array of the Institute's priorities including groundbreaking research, vital new laboratory equipment and the nationally renowned JWCI Surgical Oncology Fellowship Program, which trains the next generation of surgical oncologists.  For more information, please visit or call the Auxiliary Information line at (310) 829-8324. 

For event information and sponsorship packages, please contact Tess Csiszar at Saint John's Health Center Foundation at (310) 829-8168 or email at

SOURCE John Wayne Cancer Institute Auxiliary
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