WINDBER – Clad in pink attire, supporters of the Chan Soon-Shiong Institute of Molecular Medicine at Windber gathered Saturday to ensure the organization’s progress toward a cure for breast cancer and honored a man who continues to contribute thousands to its efforts after moving away from the area.
The ninth annual Pink Tie Affair, as in years past, helps leverage the institute’s contracts and funds advance placement courses in local high schools, as well as other programs to encourage area students to pursue a career in science, said President Tom Kurtz.
Jesse Broadwater was the 2017 recipient of the institute’s Taunia Oechslin Community Advocate for Breast Cancer Research Award, which was presented during Saturday’s event.
Broadwater, who grew up in Maryland, discovered archery at age 6 and began shooting professionally at 18.
In 2006, Broadwater moved to his wife, Lisa’s, home county of Somerset before moving to Florida, where they currently reside.
Broadwater eventually developed a bow release through Virginia-based company T.R.U. Ball, but wanted the proceeds from his product to benefit a good cause.
At his wife’s suggestion, Broadwater visited the institute, and for the past three years has donated a percentage of his product’s proceeds to the organization, along with a match from T.R.U. Ball.
Broadwater said the tour of the institute is what made him decide to make it the beneficiary of his donations and said he was “in shock” when Kurtz called to tell him about the honor he received on Saturday.
“It means a lot,” he said. “This is a unique place that ultimately wants to defeat cancer.”
Kurtz compared Broadwater’s reputation to the institute’s – oftentimes better known nationally and internationally than locally.
“He’s a lot like us,” Kurtz said.
Moving forward, Kurtz said the institute is focused on continued awareness – for cancer symptoms, but also for the importance of research in pursuit of a cure.
“I think in the next five years the breakthroughs in cancer are going to be some of the greatest breakthroughs we’ve seen in 50 years,” Kurtz said. “It’s an exciting time to be in research.”