cancer researcher with test tubes

Poker tournaments chip in $230,000 for pancreatic cancer research

You might not think there’s a connection between poker and cancer. But proceeds from a Leawood foundation’s poker tournament recently yielded $100,000 for pancreatic cancer research at The University of Kansas Cancer Center.

The “All in for a Cure” tournament is in memory of KU alumnus Brady Stanton, who died from pancreatic cancer in 2006 at the age of 40. In the past two years, the tournament has provided a total of $230,000 to the KU Cancer Center.

Martha Stanton, of Leawood, said that after her husband’s death, she and her family and friends decided to raise funds for pancreatic cancer research. They settled on a poker tournament, something Stanton said her husband would have enjoyed: “He had a weekly card game he had been playing in for 15 to 20 years with the same core group of friends.”

The group met with Roy Jensen, M.D., director of The University of Kansas Cancer Center, and set a goal of raising $30,000 to help establish a pancreatic tissue and serum bank.

The event’s first fundraiser, in February 2008, was a success. “We ended up raising well over $150,000,” said Stanton.

In addition to establishing a pancreatic tissue and serum bank, All in for a Cure’s proceeds have created the Brady Stanton Research Project in Pancreatic Cancer. Proceeds also established the Brady Stanton Fellowship for a medical oncology researcher to conduct pancreatic cancer research. Under the mentorship of senior faculty, the recipient will conduct a clinical trial, which will be made available throughout Kansas and western Missouri through the Midwest Cancer Alliance.

“We are incredibly grateful for people like the Stanton family and their friends for raising much needed funds for a very deadly, and often overlooked, form of cancer,” Jensen said. “Their funds will help us advance the field of science and hopefully move us closer to discovering new ways to treat pancreatic cancer.”

Stanton said the success of the poker tournament reflects her late husband’s way of connecting with people. “He had this great, dynamic group of friends, a big close-knit group,” she said. “This is a testament to Brady and how many friends he had and how much people cared about him.”

Brady Stanton graduated from KU in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and served as KU’s student body president during the 1986-87 academic year. He started his career in advertising and later moved to selling commercial real estate, establishing his own firm, Commercial Realty Arts. Martha Stanton earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at KU in 1990. They are parents of two sons, Henry, 9, and Pete, 8.

The gifts are managed by KU Endowment, the official fundraising and fund-management foundation for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment is the oldest foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.

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