The University Of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center 80th Anniversary Celebration Concert Raises $10.5 Million

By Jennifer Roosth   Photography by Wilson Parrish, Michelle Watson and Thomas Campbell

THE SETTING: The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center recently celebrated 80 Years of Making Cancer History at the Toyota Center to the sounds of The Beach Boys…and to the tune of more than $10.5 million raised to end cancer, surpassing an initial goal of $8 million. Actor John Stamos emceed the one-of-a-kind concert, which included artists Todd Rundgren, Christopher Cross, The Commodores, and Generation Radio featuring Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts and Jason Scheff of Chicago. The event raised awareness and funds for rare cancers in support of the musicians’ dear friend, rare cancer survivor Jeffrey Foskett, a vocalist, musician, and arranger who earned his credentials performing pop classics with The Beach Boys, America, and Jeff Beck. 

THE STYLE: The floor at the Toyota Center was a far cry from what VIPs are used to at a Houston Rockets game. Instead of folding chairs and fluorescent lights, luxury lounge seating–think plush velvet sofas and leather club chairs­–covered the arena. All eyes were focused on the blue lighting setting ablaze MD Anderson’s 80th Anniversary design that stretched across the 60-foot stage. Beachy floral arrangements, a nod to the evening’s much-anticipated entertainment, added a festive touch to the pods that hosted 20 to 30 VIPs. These special guests wore concert credentials around their necks, which contributed to the excitement in the air about what was soon to come. These passes also permitted access to the several lounges located throughout the Toyota Center.

THE PURPOSE: The evening featured almost too many memorable moments to count, yet the night’s highlight needed little build-up to appreciate. In 2018, Jeffrey Foskett lost his voice while touring with The Beach Boys. Then, in early 2019, he was diagnosed with anaplastic thyroid cancer, a rare malignancy. He received a grim prognosis at a California hospital before seeking a second opinion at MD Anderson, where a multidisciplinary team devised a treatment approach that reduced his cancer. His performance that evening brought tears to the eyes of the 2,500 guests who jumped to their feet to cheer for him. Stamos joined Foskett and The Beach Boys on tunes such as Kokomo, Barbara Ann, Surfin’ USA, and more.

Since opening its doors more than eight decades ago, MD Anderson has cared for hundreds of thousands of patients facing cancers both common and rare. The institution remains one of the world’s most respected centers devoted exclusively to cancer patient care, research, education, and prevention.