South Bay family donates $100,000 to Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute

“We are committed to providing high quality and advanced care to our patients with cancer and serious blood disorders,” said Jacqueline Casillas, MD, MSHS, medical director, Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute, Miller Children’s & Women’s. “This donation will support comprehensive care, research and support programs for more than 800 children affected by cancer each year.”

The Bender family has a storied history at the Jonathan Jacques Children’s Cancer Institute. Cindy’s parents, Shirley Jean and George J. Bender, were longtime neighbors of the late Jerry Z. Finklestein, MD, who was the founding medical director of the Jonathan Jacques Children’s Cancer Institute.

The Bender family supported the annual Champions Run for Life “Torch Run” fundraising event. “Torch Run” is an Olympic-style relay race filled with uplifting moments as patients carry a torch—a symbol of hope for a cure—as they walk, run, spin or be carried through a celebratory eighth-mile lap.

As a two-time breast cancer survivor, “Torch Run” was especially important to Shirley, so she became a committee member. George, a firefighter and plumbing company in Los Angeles City, would run in the “Torch Run” helping kids across the finish line from their lap.

“My family and I are deeply committed to the Jonathan Jacques Children’s Cancer Institute and its mission. We want to continue the legacy of helping young families endure the challenging journey of cancer,” Cindy said.

The donation was made in honor of Cindy’s parents, Shirley and George; her sister Deborah Bender-Rowe, who died of breast cancer at age 29; and dr. Finklestein. The Bender and Finklestein families have a close relationship.

“The Finklestein family has been very dear to us as our neighbors and friends, so this donation is a way to give back to a cause that means a lot to them,” said Cindy.

Cindy remembers Dr. Finklestein as a caring and generous person to whom her family will always be grateful for his friendship and guidance, especially during many health crises, including her sister Deborah’s cancer diagnosis.

“The amazing contribution of the Bender family will support progress that will benefit future patients and families,” said Dr. Casillas. “We are grateful for their support and are grateful for our continued relationship that will save lives for years to come.”

Shirley and George Bender dance at the Jonathan Jacques Children’s Cancer Institute Profiles of Courage dinner event in 2002.

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