The John Wayne Cancer Institute at Saint John's Health Center will pay tribute to the family of Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president who helped end official segregation, and award Dr. Anton Bilchik, a fellow South African, with "The Duke'' special service award.
The April 5 gala at the Four Seasons Wilshire Hotel is the main fundraiser for the cancer institute established in 1981 in the name of the actor who died of stomach cancer in 1979.
"The Wayne Family is truly honored to present the 'True Grit' Award to the Mandela Family,'' said Patrick Wayne, chairman of the board at JWCI and son of the actor. "Their spirit, fortitude and strength in ending apartheid and easing human suffering inspire us all and is unsurpassed as is our commitment to eradicate cancer and provide hope to cancer patients around the globe.''
The Mandela family will be given the "True Grit'' award for continuing the work of the ailing, 95-year-old former president, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
Mandela fought the white minority-controlled regime and was imprisoned for nearly 30 years. His family also suffered under the regime and was sentenced to house arrest.
In 1994, he was elected president, forming a multiethnic government to oversee the country's transition.
Bilchik, professor of surgery and chief of medicine at John Wayne Cancer Institute at Saint John's Health Center, will be honored for his work to improve staging in colon cancer and minimally invasive approaches for liver and pancreatic cancer.
Bilchik is among the top oncologists in the world, an active member on the editorial board of four cancer journals and has written over 200 publications. He founded the California Oncology Research Institute, a nonprofit group that supports cancer research and education globally in underserved communities.
For more information, visit www.jwci.org or call the John Wayne Cancer Institute Auxiliary at (310) 829-8324. For event information and sponsorship packages, call Tess Csiszar at (310) 829-8168; email, Tess.Csiszarstjohns.org.