Honoring a late Hollywood legend in the name of cancer research.
Local law firm Connors & Sullivan recently hosted a benefit for the John Wayne Cancer Institute, named after the legendary actor, at the Bay Ridge Manor, 476 76th Street.
The event, held on Monday, October 9, served as a fundraiser for the longstanding institute for cancer research and education, founded in memory of Wayne, who died of stomach cancer in 1979.
Attendees gathered for fundraising, food, auctions, and questions and answers about cancer, and had the opportunity to meet with actors and elected officials.
Patrick Wayne, John Wayne’s oldest surviving son, was in attendance along with other family members.
Michael Connors of Connors & Sullivan put the borough’s first event for the institution together and found it to be a success. “I think it went very well,” he said. “Every seat was taken. I think everyone had a good time.”
“The purpose of the event is to raise money for the John Wayne Cancer Institute,” Connors said. “When he was dying of cancer, his family decided after he was gone, and it was one of John Wayne’s last wishes, that they would start a foundation to help with cancer research. Patrick, who is the oldest surviving son, is the president of the institute. The family has been carrying on this tradition for the last 40 years.”
He added that having the younger Wayne — also an actor — at the event was an honor. “It was a tremendous blast for us to have him there,” Connors said. “Here’s a guy that has been in tremendous and classic films. He was with the greats like John Wayne and James Stewart and was directed by his godfather John Ford.”
Connors’ relationship with the institute began around nine years ago. “I was at a fundraiser and they were raising money for the John Wayne Cancer Institute in Manhattan,” he said.
He started talking to Wayne and they have been friends ever since.
“He’s been on my radio show nine times. We’ve run public service announcements for the John Wayne Cancer Institute on my radio show and we usually have dinner once or twice a year. Instead of just having dinner in a restaurant this year, we decided to do this event.”
Connors was happy to raise funds and awareness for the cause. “I’m glad to help however I can for them,” he said. “I’ve met doctors and three members of the Wayne family. They’re all great people and they’re trying to do their part to help find a cure for cancer.”
If you missed this year’s event, there’s always next year. Said Connors, “The members of the Wayne family said they’d love to come back next year and do it again.”
For more information, visit www. california.providence.org/john-wayne.