Philly Against Prostate Cancer
A mid-size city is yielding a super crop of groundbreaking anti-cancer research. Why is some of the most important work against prostate cancer sprouting in Philadelphia?
About five years ago, on a warm spring day Hamlin had just finished a round of golf and realized he was running late to an event in downtown Philadelphia. “I came charging into the hotel where the event was held, not having stopped to eat and a little dehydrated, and someone handed me a glass of wine, which I drank too quickly and, boom, I went down like a shot, in front of about 500 of my colleagues,” says Hamlin. A physician at the event gave Hamlin artificial respiration; he teases that all he remembers is waking up to find the ugliest guy in the world on top of him. Once awake, Hamlin was swiftly shuttled off to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital for a barrage of tests and one of the event attendees, local businessman Neal Rodin—whose wife, Sharon Schutte-Rodin, is a physician at Penn Medicine—accompanied him to the emergency department.
Once things settled down, and Hamlin was certified parched but healthy, he and Neal struck up a conversation, realizing they both knew Milken, with Rodin’s ties to him going back some 30 years. Neal Rodin is a lifelong Philadelphia resident and Milken had attended business school at Wharton. Rodin also worked in real estate, running an international property investment company. The more the two men talked, the more they realized a positive symmetry and good energy existed between them. They decided to collaborate on the annual prostate cancer fundraiser going forward. Rodin has, thankfully, never been diagnosed with prostate cancer, but he immediately saw an opportunity to give back to the community he’d lived and prospered in for so long, while also helping a lifelong friend’s anti-cancer crusade.
A Growth Spurt
“Neal is very direct, with a let’s-get-it-doneyesterday attitude,” says Jan Haber, VP of Events and Donor Relations at the Prostate Cancer Foundation, who in later years has partnered with Hamlin and Rodin to help host the event. “He’s not shy about making the calls, and even twisting an arm or two to advance the cause.” With Miracle-Grow Rodin added, Philly Against Prostate Cancer grew taller and branched out.
“When I came on board, I realized that people still thought of this effort as a golf event,” says Rodin. Rodin realized that to expand their effort, he’d need to grow it to include events beyond golf—which would draw a larger pool of donors. He offered up a garden-variety of events. Golf fans could still hit the links in the morning; and in the afternoon a business panel of local Philadelphia talent and fame offered up, along with Milken, perspectives on financial and capital opportunities. This was followed by a medical panel teeming with Philly’s scientific rock stars and moderated by Prostate Cancer Foundation CEO Dr. Jonathan Simons and that organization’s chief scientific officer, Dr. Howard Soule.Click on Image to Englarge