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Descriptions and Recipients



From the time Gilda Radner’s stage IV ovarian cancer was diagnosed in October 1986, after 10 months of misdiagnosis, she bravely fought her disease. Gilda truly believed that a positive mental attitude could win the battle against this devastating cancer, which takes over 16,200 lives every year. When her strength permitted, Gilda dedicated herself to helping other cancer patients, and to talking about her experience with ovarian cancer. She even wrote a book about her experience. Her bravery and strength have helped educate thousands of individuals on the symptoms of this silent killer and have, no doubt, saved countless lives.
Just three months after Gilda’s May 1989 death, her husband, actor Gene Wilder, called Dr. M. Steven Piver, world-renowned specialist in ovarian cancer at Roswell Park, because of his great concern that the many months of misdiagnosis of Gilda’s ovarian cancer delayed critically important treatment.
Dr. Piver, had been studying hereditary predisposition to ovarian cancer for 21 years and soon learned that five of Gilda Radner’s relatives had ovarian cancer. Together, Wilder and Dr. Piver vowed to do all in their power to keep other women from so needless a death. Since that time, many steps have been taken to educate the public on the disease. An Ovarian Hotline was established (1-800-OVARIAN) at Roswell Park to answer questions and refer callers to specialists, and the Gilda Radner Ovarian Cancer Registry tracks the incidence of ovarian cancer among families and contributes to scientists’ pursuit of a cure.
The Gilda Radner Courage Award recognizes a cancer survivor whose courageous public battle, like Gilda’s, has given hope to people with cancer and focused public attention on the fight against cancer.



Katherine Anne Gioia was four years old when a chest x-ray for what was thought to be pneumonia revealed a suspicious mass. Surgery to remove the tumor confirmed that Katherine had synovial cell sarcoma – a rare form of cancer in a child so young. The diagnosis, however, did not intimidate Katherine. She was too busy living her life to the fullest and calmly told her mother to inform the doctor that she didn’t have time to be sick. From that point on, a role reversal occurred. Katherine became the teacher and we the children. Her lesson was simple and crystal clear. All those who were fortunate enough to know her learned a great deal about strength, courage, dignity, pride, keeping a sense of humor and enjoying life, family, and friends. It was the tragic fact that Katherine Gioia’s all-too-brief life was suddenly taken by this disease that inspired and impelled all those who loved her to organize the Roswell Park Alliance – the Institute’s first community-wide fundraising volunteer group. Today, 55 dedicated Board members, as well as over 1,000 volunteers are working on a variety of projects designed to raise funds and enhance the care of patients at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Katherine Gioia’s memory will live on through the work of the Roswell Park Alliance. The Katherine Anne Gioia Inspiration Award pays tribute to a volunteer who is dedicated to the battle against cancer and whose work has inspired other volunteers.



Many transformations have taken place at Roswell Park Cancer Institute because of the efforts of Thomas B. Tomasi, MD, PhD, former President and CEO. During his tenure from 1986 to 1996, over 50 highly respected cancer researchers and physicians were recruited to some long-vacant positions. State-of-the-art patient care programs such as Bone Marrow Transplantation, the Mammography Center, and Magnetic Resonance Imaging were added and greatly enhanced the Institute’s ability to diagnose and treat cancer. Dr. Tomasi also added the Institute’s Development program. Dr. Tomasi’s leadership also helped secure the unanimous endorsements by New York State officials of the first phase of the Institute’s Major Modernization Project. The long-awaited rebuilding of Roswell Park Cancer Institute’s hospital and outpatient facility was completed in 1998. Throughout his tenure and still today, Dr. Tomasi has remained a leading researcher, with an active program in immunology. He is credited with the discovery of the antibody IgA, a significant contribution to the field of immunology. Dr. Tomasi also dedicated his career to teaching more than 70 post-doctoral fellows, MDs and PhDs. Dr. Tomasi’s leadership enabled Roswell Park Cancer Institute to reemerge at the forefront of cancer treatment, research and education, and to lead the way in the battle against cancer. The Thomas B. Tomasi Hope Award honors a Roswell Park Cancer Institute faculty member whose work has made significant advances in the fight against cancer and brought hope to cancer patients.


2018 Olivia Newton John
2017 Amy Robach
2016 Joan Lunden
2014 Vince Papale
2013 Lara Logan
2012 Giuliana Rancic
2010 David C. Hohn, MD
2009 Michael Haynes
2008 Robin Roberts
2007 Marcia Wallace
2006 Ted Kennedy, Jr.
2005 Rue McClanahan
2004 Joel Siegel
2003 Barry Bostwick
2002 Scott Hamilton
2000 Amy Langer
1999 Sam Donaldson
1998 Robert Urich
1997 Marv Levy
1996 General H. Norman
1995 Roz & Tom Brill
1994 Senator Robert Dole
1993 Jeff Blatnick
1992 Jeff Bannister


2018 Susan Roney
2017 Mike and Amy Lesakowski
2016 Kathleen Graim
2015 The Kelly Family
2014 David Zebro
2013 The Ride for Roswell Steering Chairs
2012 Kali Korzelius
2011 Katherine Johnson-Hoffman
2010 Mary Pinto
2009 William McLaughlin
2008 Scott Bieler
2007 Rick Suchan
2006 Patrick Lee
2005 Sally Russell
2004 Anne Louise Ciminelli
2003 Chuck & Carole Ann Collard
2002 Colleen Burns & Susan Zebro
2001 Patty Capstraw Wilkins
2000 Linda Scime
1999 Jackie Pritchard- Mordaunt
1998 Mitch Flynn
1997 Gerald Lippes
1996 Nancy Jewett
1995 Rosemary Castellani
1994 David Campbell
1993 Pamela Jacobs Vogt


2018 Dr.Kelvin Lee
2017 Robert Fenstermaker, MD
2016 Andrei Gudkov, PhD, DSci
2015 Khurshid Guru, MD
2014 Carl Morrison, MD, DVM
2013 Candace Johnson, PhD
2012 Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD
2011 James L. Mohler MD
2010 Alex A. Adjei, MD, PhD, FACP
2009 James Marshall, PhD
2008 Norma Nowak, PhD
2007 Christine Ambrosone, PhD
2006 Clement Ip, PhD
2005 Youcef Rustum, PhD
2004 Carl W. Porter, PhD
2003 Barbara W. Henderson, PhD
2002 Carleton Stewart, PhD
2001 Enrico Mihich, MD
2000 Thomas Dougherty, Ph.D.
1999 K. Michael Cummings, Ph.D.
1998 Pieter de Jong, Ph.D.
1997 Harold Box, Ph.D.
1996 Elizabeth Repasky, Ph.D.
1995 Richard Bankert,D.V.M., Ph.D.
1994 Vern Chapman, Ph.D.
1993 Thomas B. Shows, Ph.D.


2011 Blythe Danner
2010 Ryan Miller
2003 Senator Dale M. Volker
2001 Jeff Wigand