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Monday, June 13, 2016

ML's Thiel Talks Fighting Cancer

News summary by MFWire's editors

The American Cancer Society’s 11th Annual Financial Services Cares Gala (FSCG) was held in Midtown Manhattan on June 9 at the Hilton. At last count FSCG raised $2,175,000, MFWire has learned. John Thiel, Head of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, took some time at the event to speak with MFWire.

John Thiel
Merrill Lynch Wealth Management
Head of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management
KPMG started the event to honor Eugene D. O'Kelly, former KPMG chairman and CEO, soon after O'Kelly lost his own battle with cancer in 2005. “He was a brilliant man and a visionary as it relates to what he did at KPMG. I’m sure he would be very proud. And I know his wife Corinne is very proud,” Thiel, an event chair and alumnus of KPMG, tells MFWire.

Thiel was ambitious about matching the amount of money raised at last year's event.

"We’re business people, we have goals. We’re going to try to raise a lot of money. Last year we raised about $2.5 million. We’re going to try and do the same thing this year. You never know. We’re not going to worry either way because if you’re a few hundred thousand short you’re still doing an amazing thing under anybody’s definition," he tells MFWire.

Thiel went on to share some personal anecdotes of how cancer has impacted him personally.
My father-in-law passed [away] at 50 before I met him. There’s always this regret that I didn’t get to know my father in law and he didn’t get to know me. And cancer is the reason that we lost him. The second part is I wanted to do something to give back. To me this was a cause that resonated. The fact of the matter is we need to raise money, and this is something easy to talk to people about because it does impact so many people.
Everyone came out a winner last evening for supporting such an important cause. "It’s our culture to give back. So this is totally aligned with Charlie Merrill and what he thought we should do not only for our customers but for our community. So it allows me to live that legacy," says Thiel.

Nonetheless FSCG did call out a few attendees for their particular philanthropic efforts and for their contributions cancer research.

The Eugene D. O’Kelly Award went to a pair of recipients this year, both of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, including Charles S. Fuchs, MD, MPH, and Adam Bass, MD.

"There are many cancers where they've made major progress. But at the core of it, we've got to fund the research," says Thiel. He pointed to the progress the night's honorees have made on gastrointestinal cancer, a disease to which Thiel lost a dear friend and another friend suffers from.
Tonight we're honoring Dr. Fuchs and Dr. Bass, who are really the premiere experts in the world on gastrointestinal cancer, which doesn't get a lot of attention. It's a real cancer. It's great to honor them because they get so little attention that we're going to bring a spotlight to their great work.
The Distinguished Service Award in honor of Charles S. Hallac went to John Hancock.

There was also a Wall Street's Got Talent category, the recipient for which was Carla Harris, Morgan Stanley vice chairman, wealth management, senior client advisor, managing director. She won for her performance of Footloose Funk.

“It’s really great that we get everybody together to give back. We may leave here and be competitors. But when we’re here tonight, we’re here as a team to try to raise money to fight cancer," says Thiel.  

Edited by: Gerelyn Terzo

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