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Lung Cancer Foundation of America’s ‘Day at the Races’ returns to Del Mar

At the 2014 Lung Cancer Foundation of America “Day at the Races” event: L-R: Chris Draft, former NFL player; Tim Conway, Jr., talk show host; Kim Norris, president of the Lung Cancer Foundation of America; Susan Flannery, actress and soap opera icon. Courtesy photo
Don Diamont. Courtesy photo

With racing back in season at the Del Mar Racetrack, so is the Lung Cancer Foundation of America’s “Day at the Races.” Don Diamont of “The Bold and the Beautiful” is joining the organization for its sixth annual awareness and fundraising event Sunday, July 26, at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

“‘The Bold and the Beautiful’s’ continued support has been incredible,” said Kim Norris, co-founder and president of the Lung Cancer Foundation of America.

Last year, Diamont’s former co-star, Susan Flannery, joined the organization’s “Day at the Races” at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Her character, Stephanie Forrester, battled the disease on “The Bold and the Beautiful.”

“The Bold and the Beautiful” was praised for its authentic portrayal of lung cancer in 2010, when Flannery’s character was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer and underwent treatments.

On Feb. 7, 2011, during the 6,000th episode of the CBS series, the show featured several real-life lung cancer survivors, including the late actress Kathryn Joosten and Dr. Michael Weitz, a lung cancer patient advocate and lung cancer survivor since 2006.

“It was eye-opening for me,” said Diamont, who has portrayed Bill Spencer, Jr. on “The Bold and the Beautiful” for seven years. He previously worked on “The Young and the Restless” for about 25 years.

“I, like a lot of people, associated lung cancer with smokers,” he said. “To realize the incredibly high percentage of people that are non-smokers and get lung cancer is just incredibly eye-opening. It’s a key message to get out there. That stigma clearly affects people’s perspective on donating and getting the word out.”

Added Norris, “It really helped us get the word out that this is not a one-to-one relationship between lung cancer and smoking. Because of the cultural stigma that’s attached to it, it really does impact the opportunity to fundraise.”

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death and the second most common cancer among both men and women in the United States, yet it ranks near the bottom in research funding.

“It kills more than breast, prostate, colon and pancreatic cancers combined, yet it gets a fraction of the funding,” Norris noted.

To raise awareness of lung cancer and funds for research, Norris co-founded the Lung Cancer Foundation of America in 2007 with David Sturges, an attorney in Minnesota, and Lori Monroe, a registered nurse in Kentucky — both lung cancer survivors. After a 12-year battle with the disease, Monroe died in 2013.

“It is a painful death to watch. Most family members just want to put it behind them and forget about it,” said Norris, who devoted her life to being a lung cancer patient advocate after losing her husband, Roy, at age 47 to lung cancer in 1999. “We aim to engage those people that have been touched by this disease.”

“Day at the Races” is one of the foundation’s annual fundraisers, bringing together advocates, survivors and supporters at the Del Mar Racetrack. Proceeds benefit lung cancer research.

The Lung Cancer Foundation of America has raised about $1.8 million for lung cancer research since it first launched.

“It’s just a fun day,” Norris said. “It’s also a celebration. There are some very exciting new research discoveries happening that are directly impacting the survival of lung cancer. I’m excited and I’m hopeful. I really feel we are on the precipice of really making a difference in the survival rate of this disease — but it still takes funding.”

The sixth annual “Day at the Races” will take place from noon to 6:30 p.m. July 26 in the Il Palio Restaurant at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. Races begin at 2 p.m.

Tickets cost $150 and include entry into the private Turf Club, a tour of the paddock area and a private betting window. The event will also feature a special “Breath of Life” race to raise awareness about lung cancer and support lung cancer research, as well as a silent auction and raffle drawing.

For information or to inquire about tickets or sponsorships, contact Jim Baranski at jbaranski@lcfamerica.org.

For more about the Lung Cancer Foundation of America or to buy tickets for the event, visit www.lcfamerica.org.


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