Over the last 43 years, the Oklahoma chapter of the Ladies Auxiliary to the VFW has given more than $128,000 to OMRF. On Wednesday, the group visited OMRF to see the fruits of its investment.
Twenty-six members, including National President Jan Tittle from South Carolina, toured the facility, met with scientists and spoke with OMRF President Stephen Prescott, M.D.
“It is exciting to see OMRF and to know, especially for the state members, that there’s a facility so close by that’s doing this type of cutting-edge research,” Tittle said. “I was especially interested in OMRF’s autoimmune disease research, because my husband has lupus.”
Nationally, the Ladies Auxiliary to the VFW gives about $3 million annually to cancer research and education.
Connie Bjorgo, the group’s Cancer Chair, said she was especially thrilled to meet Dean Dawson, Ph.D., who works in OMRF’s Cell Cycle and Cancer Biology research program. Dawson’s laboratory is studying a gene that appears to play a role in both breast and colon cancers.
“Seeing the work that’s done here, beginning with basic cell research in Dr. Dawson’s lab, makes all the work we do to raise money worth it,” she said. “I always learn something new when I visit OMRF, and it makes me want to get out there and raise more money to continue this research.”
One member from the Moore chapter, Janet Lawrence, said she knows the difference research makes, because she’s taking part in a research study at OMRF.
“I have rheumatoid arthritis, and I visit Dr. Ewa Olech in the Clinical Pharmacology program,” she said. “I get emotional when I see the work that goes into research to help people like me.”
State Ladies Auxiliary President Brenda Lewis said the visit gave her organization a deeper understanding of the research that takes place at OMRF. “It makes a difference to see it with my own eyes,” she said.
The Department of Oklahoma Ladies Auxiliary to the VFW has chapters in more than 80 Oklahoma cities and towns. Its members raise funds for OMRF through bake sales, garage sales, bingo games and individual donations.
The group counts more than 767,000 members nationwide and has chapters throughout Oklahoma, including the following cities:
- El Reno
“The Ladies Auxiliary has been a valued partner in our fight against cancer,” said OMRF director of development Will Merrick. “They have entrusted us with their generous donations, and we want them to see their gifts at work.”