The Margaret L. Hodges Leadership Award
In honor of Gala founder Margaret L. Hodges, the Gala committees established an award to present to remarkable individuals who embody and follow her can-do leadership spirit. It is bestowed as a centerpiece of the Gala to pay tribute to sustained contributions of time, energy, financial resources, and leadership.
Founder of the Ruesch Center for the Cure of Gastrointestinal Cancers
Jeanne Ruesch serves as chair of the Ruesch Family Foundation, primarily focused on medical research, education, and the arts, which she founded with her late husband, Otto J. Ruesch. In 2009, she established the Otto J. Ruesch Center for the Cure of Gastrointestinal Cancers at the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. The Ruesch Center combines expertise in treatment, research, patient care, and advocacy in GI cancers.
Among countless other philanthropic appointments, Mrs. Ruesch has served in leadership roles with Georgetown University and its School of Foreign Service, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and the National Symphony Orchestra.
Prior to establishing the family foundation, Jeanne and Otto Ruesch founded Ruesch International, an international financial services company that provided global payment solutions for corporations worldwide.
Jeanne has been a leader within Georgetown University and the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, both through her philanthropy and commitment of time, energy and expertise. As the founder of the Ruesch Center for the Cure of Gastrointestinal Cancers, she has demonstrated her commitment to advocacy, research and improving the lives of individuals and families battling cancer.
NFL Players Association Georgetown Lombardi Award
The NFL Players Association award honors a person who has faced cancer and who possesses those qualities that made Coach Lombardi an inspiration to all people - dependability, courage, discipline and honor.
In April 1995, Bryant Gumbel began hosting Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, HBO Sports’ monthly magazine-style program that explores issues, controversies and personalities prevalent in the world of sports. Among other honors, Real Sports has been honored with 32 Emmy Awards, as well as three duPont-Columbia University Awards for broadcast journalism.
One of television’s most accomplished broadcasters, Gumbel was with NBC for more than 20 years, where he hosted “TODAY” for 15 years, longer than anyone else in the show’s history. During his time with “TODAY,” he won an Emmy for his interviews.
Gumbel has compiled a remarkably diverse array of credits. He has interviewed superpower leaders and Super Bowl heroes, and has covered foreign wars, elections, international summits and presidential inaugurations.
Gumbel has received the United Negro College Fund’s highest honor, the Frederick D. Patterson Award, as well as the Martin Luther King Award from the Congress of Racial Equality and three NAACP Image Awards. Gumbel has been honored with the International Journalism Award from TransAfrica, the Africa’s Future Award from the U.S. Committee for UNICEF, and the leadership award from the African American Institute.
Gumbel has received honorary doctorates from Bates, Xavier, Holy Cross, Providence College and Clark Atlanta University. He has served on the boards of the United Way of New York City, Xavier University in New Orleans and Bates College.
As a two-time cancer survivor, we are honored to present Bryant Gumbel with the 2017 NFL Players Association Georgetown Lombardi Award.
The John F. Potter, M.D. Award
Darren Mays, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Dr. Darren Mays earned his MPH and PhD in behavioral sciences from Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health. He is an Assistant Professor of Oncology and Member of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Dr. Mays' research focuses on behavioral cancer prevention among adolescents and young adults, with specific interests in tobacco use and skin cancer risk behaviors such as sun exposure and indoor tanning. His research develops novel strategies for reducing these risk behaviors and promoting healthy, cancer-preventive behaviors among young people. His research accomplishes these goals by studying how cancer risk behaviors unfold, developing effective approaches for cancer risk communication, and examining strategies for policy change. Dr. Mays' ongoing research in these areas is supported through grants from the National Institutes of Health and private foundations.
Dr. Mays demonstrates many of the qualities that made Dr. John Potter a revolutionary force for change in the fight against cancer. Dr. Mays’ innovative research provides practical solutions to complicated problems, and uses a multifaceted approach combining research, education and advocacy to combat the disease.
Congratulations, Dr. Mays on this well-deserved honor!