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Jack and Deborah Gunter

Meet Deborah Gunter, chairwoman of the upcoming Living Legend Luncheon that will honor golf professional, Ben Crenshaw. The luncheon will celebrate it's 25th anniversary and has raised more than $850,000 for the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Moon Shots Program, a comprehensive effort to accelerate the fight against cancer. Gunter has deep personal ties to the disease. Her husband, Dr. Jack P. Gunter received treatment at MD Anderson in 1997 with secondary metastic prostate cancer. He had surgery at John Hopkins with his primary in 1990. He received radiation therapy, and was cured. In addition, her mother has survived colon cancer and her father was a victim of lung cancer. 

Gunter has dedicated more than two decades of her life to volunteer work with a variety of worthy causes. She has held leadership roles in the Crystal Charity Ball, Dallas Junior League, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Symphony Orchestra League and many others. Gunter is a mother of two daughter and also has three step-daughters. We wanted to know more about the Living Legend Luncheon and her volunteer work. She was kind enough to answer a few questions:  

Dawn Tongish: Please begin by telling us about Living Legend Luncheon that will benefit The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Deborah Gunter: 2014 marks this remarkable event’s 25th anniversary, and it will take place November 3rd at the Hilton Anatole. Professional golfer Ben Crenshaw is this year’s honoree, and golf commentator David Feherty will conduct the interview. The luncheon, which already has raised more than $869,000, benefits The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Moon Shots Program, a comprehensive effort to accelerate the fight against cancer.

DT: You became involved with Living Legend Luncheon because of a deeply personal connection. Can you share your family history and why you are so passionate about this cause?

DG: Yes, cancer has hit very close to home for my family, as it has for so many. My husband was diagnosed in 1997 with secondary metastatic prostate cancer. He underwent radiation therapy and was cured.  It has been a wonderful thing. In addition, my mother has survived colon cancer and my father was a victim of lung cancer.

DT: The luncheon will honor one of the greatest legends in golf, Ben Crenshaw. Why did Mr. Crenshaw decide to dedicate his time to this worthy cause?

DG: My friend and Living Legend committee member Marty Leonard was very helpful in securing Mr. Crenshaw for our event. While her friendship with him was a part of the reason he decided to be a part of the 25th annual event, he also is simply a very caring person, who wants to help others. He did not get the nickname "Gentle Ben" without a reason.

DT: You have dedicated many years to charity work in Dallas-Fort Worth. Are you constantly amazed by the spirit of giving?

DG: I truly am. The year-round energy behind philanthropy in DFW is just inspiring. I have held leadership roles with many organizations in Dallas, including Crystal Charity Ball, Junior League, the Dallas Museum of Art and Dallas Symphony Orchestra League, and the people involved are so determined to make a difference.

DT: How can the people of North Texas help meet the needs of those who benefit from the Living Legend Luncheon. What are the biggest needs? 

DG: One of the things I think is important to remember about the beneficiary of the luncheon is that MD Anderson, a part of the Texas Medical Center, is one of the world's most respected centers focused on cancer patient care, research, education and prevention. The institution treats patients from Texas, across the nation and around the world.  Private philanthropy is crucial to its world-class cancer research and patient care initiatives. By supporting the Living Legend luncheon, our community can truly be a part of “Making Cancer History®.”  This year’s proceeds will go toward MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program, the most ambitious assault on cancer ever undertaken by a single institution. That’s an incredible opportunity to help make a difference for cancer patients and their families everywhere.

DT: What is the most memorable moment in your charitable experiences?

DG: My most vivid memories as a volunteer are those from working at Parkland Hospital in its surgery clinic. It opened my eyes to “the human condition” and taught me compassion. 

If you'd like to nominate a local resident for a BubbleLife community profile, contact Dawn Tongish at dtongish@yahoo.com or find her on Twitter at @DawnTongish.

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