Dear Friends,

Laurie and I write to you today in the midst of a national emergency the likes of which none of us has experienced before. Most of our daily routines have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and many events in our lives have been cancelled or changed dramatically.

West Virginia University has faced this challenge straight on and we have made forward decisions using the best advice of our health care professionals. Cancelling our Cancer Institute Gala was a very painful decision – but one that was necessary to protect the very people we looked forward to seeing.

The cancellation of our Gala leaves the Cancer Institute nearly $1 million short on funds that would have been generated from this event. The funds from previous galas have supported critical research and patient care – and provided much needed family comfort at one of life’s most challenging times. It will be a struggle to meet these needs unless those dollars are raised in a different way.

That is why Laurie and I are reaching out to you and others. First, if you have supported the Cancer Gala in years past, we thank you sincerely. Our loyal friends have made this event the “not to be missed” event of the season. We cannot overstate our gratitude for your dedication. But, we need your help to fund the critical needs left unfilled by the loss of Gala revenue.

If you have committed to a sponsorship level for the Gala, we ask that you honor that commitment. If you had planned to attend the Gala, we ask that you not seek reimbursement for your registration. These gifts of support will make a vital difference in ways we cannot measure. Should you wish to speak with us about this further, we would invite you to contact Tiffany Samuels at the Cancer Institute. She may be reached by phone at 304-293-8604. We would also encourage those who made room reservations to contact The Greenbrier directly in order to confirm cancellation.

Cancer Institute leadership, in concert with Hospital and Health Science leadership, are already hard at work developing a novel means by which we can continue to raise needed funds and honor supporters this year. More details on this unique opportunity are forthcoming. We very much look forward to sharing them with you in the near future.

Let us use this time of challenge to rise to the occasion and to show our community what true Mountaineer spirit is all about.

Laurie and I cannot wait until we can gather again and celebrate with one another our resiliency. Stay well and know that you are in our thoughts and prayers.

Dr. E. Gordon Gee
President, West Virginia University

Laurie Erickson
First Lady, West Virginia University
2020 WVU Cancer Gala Chair