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Gary Fazio, Honorary Chairperson and Derrick Hall, Master of Ceromonies

Seena Magowitz Foundation Focuses Fundraising on TGen’s Early Detection of Pancreatic Cancer

April 28, 2015

Gary Fazio is Honorary Chairman, Derrick Hall is Master of Ceremonies at May 14-15. 2015‘Golf Classic’ in Orlando

The Seena Magowitz Foundation, which has raised millions of dollars for the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in the quest for a cure for pancreatic cancer, is focusing on early diagnosis of this deadly disease, which often goes undetected until its advanced stages.

As part of this quest, the Foundation’s 13th annual Seena Magowitz Golf Classic, May 14-15 at the Omni Resort at ChampionsGate in Orlando, Florida, promises to be “much more than a golf tournament,” said Gary Fazio, CEO of Serta Simmons Bedding LLC, who is serving a second year as the event’s Honorary Chairman.

The Foundation was created by Founder Roger E. Magowitz as a way to honor his mother, Seena Magowitz, who passed away in 2001 of pancreatic cancer, a highly aggressive disease that this year will take the lives of more than 40,000 Americans.

“What began as a charity golf gathering in 2003, has become a major annual event, drawing hundreds of attendees from across the nation, and making major contributions to the advancement of pancreatic cancer research,” said Fazio, who has more than 40 years of experience in the bedding industry, which is a primary supporter of pancreatic cancer research. “Now, with viable drug options in place, the Foundation has shifted its focus to early diagnostics.”

Serving this year as the tournament’s Master of Ceremonies is Derrick Hall, President and CEO of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“I have lost a parent to pancreatic cancer and share in Roger Magowitz’s determination to find a better treatment and a method of early diagnosis for this terrible disease,” Hall said. “The breakthroughs that TGen has achieved shine bright. Now, those of us who have been touched by pancreatic cancer have every reason to be optimistic.”

The Seena Magowitz Golf Classic — whose theme this year is “Connected by Life. Driven to Help” — raises needed funds for pancreatic cancer research at TGen, a Phoenix-based, non-profit biomedical research center. Prior to last year, the Foundation’s premier event was held in Phoenix.

“We need a mammogram for the pancreas. Just like breast cancer, if pancreatic cancer is detected early, we will be able to find a cure,” said Dr. Daniel Von Hoff, TGen Distinguished Professor, Physician-In-Chief and one of the world’s leading authorities on pancreatic cancer, the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S.

This year, nearly 49,000 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Median survival for patients with advanced disease is less than 6 months following diagnosis, and the 5-year survival rate is less than 6 percent for all patients. Pancreatic cancer’s lethal nature stems from its propensity to rapidly spread to distant organs. Because there is no early screening test, it usually is not diagnosed until its late stages, often when surgery is no longer an option, making it difficult to treat.

TGen has made major progress about treating pancreatic cancer through the work of its Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C) Pancreatic Cancer Dream Team. Importantly, as a result of TGen clinical research, the U.S. FDA in 2013 approved the use of Abraxane in combination with gemcitabine as a front-line therapy for patients with advanced pancreatic cancer. The Seena Magowitz Foundation helped fund the Abraxane clinical trials.

“With the Abraxane plus gemcitabine regimen, some patients are surviving past 3 years,” said Dr. Von Hoff, who directs clinical trials at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center Clinical Trials at HonorHealth in Scottsdale, Arizona where TGen research discoveries are translated into new treatments for patients.

A dinner and concert are planned the evening of May 14, 2015 featuring a presentation by Dr. Von Hoff.

This year’s Golf Classic also includes a $1 million hole-in-one contest, an Everglades boat ride, and a David Leadbetter Golf Academy VIP Class.

“Today, we are excited to bring the Seena Magowitz Golf Classic to Orlando and invite the community to join us as we bring people, organizations, advocates and medical researchers together in synergistic concert to fight pancreatic cancer,” said Roger Magowitz. “We are focused on early detection, increasing survival rate, creating awareness, and an eventual cure.”

The Signature Sponsors of Major Sponsors of the 13th Annual Golf Classic are Serta Mattress Company and Simmons Bedding Company. Major Sponsors are Mattress Firm Holdings, Leggett & Platt, Sleep Inc., Tempur Sealy, Protect-A-Bed, and Comfort Revolution.

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