Event honoring actor Robert Duvall raised record $9.1 million for Texas Children's Cancer Center


An evening fundraiser honoring legendary actor Robert Duvall, attended by more than 900 supporters, raised an unprecedented $9.1 million for the genomic research program at Texas Children's Cancer Center, the # 1 pediatric cancer center in Texas as ranked by U.S. News World Report. Texas oilman, two-time cancer survivor, philanthropist and author of the book "You Gotta Dance Like No One's Watching," Lester Smith, and wife, Sue, chaired the seventh annual "Evening with a Legend" dinner and program at Hilton Americas on Feb. 23rd. The Smiths made it the highest-grossing event ever for Texas Children's Cancer Center by matching every donation made with funds from The Lester and Sue Smith Foundation. The fundraising total announced during the evening program was $8.9 million---until an anonymous donor pledged the $100,000 needed to reach $9 million---and the Smith Foundation matched that gift.

"We are thrilled to have chaired this record-breaking event for Texas Children's Cancer Center, which will fund genomic research that can bring us one step closer to a cure for childhood cancer," said Lester Smith.

Presented by Wells Fargo, the event featured a live interview with Duvall and celebrated the Texas epic mini-series "Lonesome Dove". The Academy, Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning Duvall shared memories of his role as Augustus "Gus" McCrae in "Lonesome Dove" and other highlights of his Hollywood career. The interview was conducted by Bob Schieffer, CBS News' Chief Washington Correspondent, moderator of "Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer" and former anchor of "CBS Evening News". Houston's KHOU-TV Channel 11 news anchor Len Cannon served as master of ceremonies.

"This evening has been a powerful celebration of generosity on behalf of children," said Dr. David Poplack, director of Texas Children's Cancer Center. "From the fascinating program provided by Robert Duvall and Bob Schieffer to the philanthropic leadership of Lester and Sue Smith, we'll all be talking about this night for a long time to come."

Guests heard personal stories from Duvall, including many light-hearted moments, as he shared fascinating tales from behind the scenes on the sets of "To Kill a Mockingbird," "The Godfather," "Lonesome Dove" and other roles. The actor stated again that the role of former Texas Ranger Augustus "Gus" McCrae was his personal favorite.

Past honorees from the popular "Evening with a Legend" benefit include Lance Armstrong, Roger Clemens, Darrell K. Royal, Dr. Denton A. Cooley, Apollo astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Gene Cernan and Jim Lovell, and the Junction Boys of Texas AM University.

Children come to Texas Children's Cancer Center from 35 states and 26 countries for state-of-the art treatments, many of which are unavailable elsewhere. Ranked among the nation's top pediatric cancer centers by U.S. News World Report, Texas Children's Cancer Center treats 1,900 new patients and conducts 33,000 outpatient visits annually. To learn more, visit www.txccc.org.

About Texas Children’s Hospital

Texas Children’s Hospital, a not-for-profit health care organization, is committed to creating a healthier future for children and women throughout the global community by leading in patient care, education and research. Consistently ranked as the best children’s hospital in Texas, and among the top in the nation, Texas Children’s has garnered widespread recognition for its expertise and breakthroughs in pediatric and women’s health. The hospital includes the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute; the Feigin Center for pediatric research; Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, a comprehensive obstetrics/gynecology facility focusing on high-risk births; Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, a community hospital in suburban West Houston; and Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, a second community hospital planned to open in 2017. The organization also created the nation’s first HMO for children, has the largest pediatric primary care network in the country and a global health program that’s channeling care to children and women all over the world. Texas Children’s Hospital is affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine. For more information, go to www.texaschildrens.org. Get the latest news by visiting the online newsroom and Twitter at twitter.com/texaschildrens.