Greetings to the AUB community from the heart of Beirut, where early this morning we concluded an incredible fundraiser for cancer patients in partnership with Sar El Waqt and MTV. The show went from 8:30 pm until 1:45 am. The show and the results were moving and impactful beyond our wildest expectations.
Our thanks go to all who made this show a spectacular success, from our magnificent donors and community who have stepped up time and again this year, to Cancer Support Fund Founder Hala Dahdah, Marcel Ghanem, Michel El Murr, our exceptional Advancement team, whose efforts here were led by Imad Baalbaki and Salma Dannawi Oueida, and all our magnificent Faculty of Medicine and Basile Cancer Institute leadership, physicians, nurses, staff, students, and patients. All made extraordinary contributions for which we, and more importantly our cancer patients and providers, are profoundly grateful. And I cannot sufficiently thank Trustees Huda Zoghbi and Viviane Tabar, as well as distinguished AUB alumni Hagop Kantarjian and Josiane Abisaab for their magnificent recorded messages in support of the Basile Cancer Institute.
It has been a most exhilarating and exhausting semester, culminating in a most incredible day, night, and morning. As folks now realize, we have managed to raise $5.1 million and LBP 5.4 billion so far, and Imad, Salma and co have more than 3,000 additional WhatsApp messages to go through with more pledges over the next few days.
Last month, we had a fundraiser which exceeded all expectations and raised $4.45 million in New York City, by far the best AUB fundraising event that I am aware of, and we followed it up by raising almost $2.4 million on Giving Day. All of these funds raised in the last five weeks are dedicated to students and patients.
And yet we topped those extraordinary efforts by a considerable margin last night and blew it away in the wee hours of this morning.
That is simply remarkable. Fewer than a dozen adult cancer centers in the world could have pulled that number off. The emotional impact? In this country? It is incalculable.
Over the course of the night, we came to the increasing conviction that this was much more than a fundraiser. I view this event as a strong indication that AUB, all of our university, is better placed than it has been in years to empower individuals with genuine confidence and self-belief, and more importantly, a true understanding of the requirements, responsibilities, and blessings of true citizenship, and that citizenship’s intermixture of belonging and responsibility.
It is worth noting that while the majority of gifts for the Cancer Support Fund came from Lebanese, numerous Arab donors stepped up considerably. Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians, Kuwaitis, Saudis, Emiratis, Qataris and others, all called in or pledged substantial gifts for their AUB, as the university, and Lebanon, were once more at the heart of the Arab world for one magnificent event.
Most moving of all were the small pledges. A soldier giving up $100, or two months wages, to help support cancer patients. Children giving away several months’ allowance. The staff of MTV, the nurses and others at AUBMC contributing. The testimonials of patients, staff, and physicians of the Naef Khoury Basile Cancer Institute were deeply moving, the whole evening simply indescribable. And uplifting beyond description.
All of this further increases my considerable faith, built over a lifetime of learning and effort, that a people so willing to give to those less fortunate and to embrace the pursuit of excellence and generosity for the greater good are more than capable of building a sustainable nation. We at AUB will stand by Lebanon and the Lebanese and help them to do so, peacefully but persistently, as we always have.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and your families, my dear AUB community. Like our great university, I am more certain than ever that Lebanon will indeed endure to become the great nation we all know it can be.
All the best,
Fadlo R. Khuri, MD