MBC Gala to Benefit Duke/UNC Breast Cancer Research (10.10.20)

Donald McDonnell Komen NCTC

Virtual event includes silent and live auctions and updates on metastatic breast cancer research

Komen North Carolina Triangle to the Coast (NCTC) is preparing to host its first annual gala to support metastatic breast cancer research — Together We Thrive — as a virtual event that includes silent and live auctions and updates on metastatic breast cancer research. 

The virtual gala, to be held on Saturday, October 10, at 7 p.m., benefits the Susan G. Komen Metastatic Breast Cancer Collaborative Research Initiative. Launched last December, the initiative brings together two world-class cancer research institutions in the Triangle area toignite collaboration and fast track research for patients living with metastatic breast cancer, the only breast cancer that kills.”

Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC), also known as stage 4, is an advanced stage of breast cancer where tumor cells have spread to other parts of the body. The five-year survival rate is only 27%. Every year, MBC kills 42,000 people in the United States alone.

“Despite many advances in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in recent years, metastatic breast cancer remains a disease that kills too many women. New treatment approaches are still desperately needed and success will require collaborations across disciplines and institutions,” said Michael Kastan, MD, PhD, executive director of Duke Cancer Institute. “The Komen MBC Research Initiative recognized this need and is responding by providing support for collaborations between investigators at Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill. Working together, all things become possible.”

Headlining the virtual event are top scholars in the breast cancer field:

  • Donald McDonnell, PhD (Duke Cancer Institute) Komen Scholar; Professor of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology; Glaxo-Wellcome Distinguished Professor of Molecular Cancer Biology; and Professor in Medicine.
  • Lisa Carey, MD, FASCO (UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center) Komen Scholar; Richardson and Marilyn Jacobs Preyer Distinguished Professor in Breast Cancer Research; and Division Chief, Hematology and Oncology.

Emceed by WRAL-TV anchor Debra Morgan, the dynamic program includes silent and live auctions on items spanning dining, entertainment, golf, jewelry, retail, and wine & spirits. Participants can also register to have wine and a chef-prepared charcuterie platter (for $250 serving six to eight people) delivered to their home during the virtual event. Additionally, there will be an opportunity to purchase raffle tickets (one ticket for $25 or five tickets for $100) for the chance to win a 2016 EZ Go electric golf cart valued at $7,500.

One-hundred percent of net proceeds from the gala will support the MBC Collaborative Research Fund.

Adam and Rhonda Howell, parents of a young son, are co-chairs of the gala. Rhonda, a Duke patient, has been living with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer for 4.5 years. She has also become a fierce advocate, fighting for more research funding so she can see their 8-year old son grow up. To date, She and Adam have raised $250,000 for MBC research. (Learn more about Rhonda's cancer fight at this end of this page)

“Our end goal with the MBC Research Initiative is to give families and patients the priceless gift of time by beginning to transform MBC from terminal to chronic while ultimately searching for the cures,” said Pam Kohl, initiative director and a metastatic breast cancer thriver herself.


  • Free-of-Charge: Attend the Together We Thrive Virtual Gala at home! Registration includes access to the Silent and Live auctions, Whiskey Wall, Raffle and Virtual Live Event. All bidding and donating can be done through your cell phone or mobile device.
  • $250 Party Package: Enjoy a Chef-Prepared Charcuterie Platter including fine cured meats, Ashe County cheeses, fig preserves from Bruce Julien Heritage Foods, olives from Angus Barn and more! Also included are 2 bottles of delicious wine all delivered to your home. Platter will serve 6-8 friends/family while you enjoy the Virtual Gala.
  • Four levels of sponsorships ranging from $1,000 to $7,500.




Learn More about Gala Co-Chairs Adam & Rhonda Howell (content provided by Komen NCTC)

Adam & Rhonda HowellAdam and Rhonda Howell are both natives of North Carolina and have been married for nine years. They have one son, who turned eight in May. Rhonda was originally diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer at age 34, when their son was just 15 months old. After a double mastectomy, four rounds of chemotherapy, 35 radiation treatments and taking daily tamoxifen, she was declared cancer free.

However, two years later, in 2015, Rhonda was diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer, with metastases to her liver and bones. She was 36 years old, and their son was three. Rhonda has now been fighting metastatic breast cancer for five years, and recently celebrated her 41st birthday. Rhonda desperately wants to live to see their son grow up! So, Adam & Rhonda are very passionate about raising funding for metastatic breast cancer research.

To date, they have raised $250,000 for MBC research, and are excited to partner with Susan G. Komen NCTC to continue this mission!