A Caring Community Making an Impact in the Fight Against Cancer

By Sheri Ortiz

Over the past decade, the members of The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch, along with residents of the Cordillera Ranch community have supported many fundraising events benefitting the Mays Cancer Center, home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson, this region’s only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center. Numerous events such as the annual San Antonio Express-News Book & Author Luncheon, the annual SA Cancer Council’s Spring Luncheon and various donor-sponsored dinners and physician panel presentations held at the Club, are just some of the ways the community bands together for this great cause. 

The center’s cancer experts have also made presentations to various groups within the community, including the Men’s Group on several occasions. All of these special events are very popular with the members and residents of Cordillera Ranch, who have enthusiastically attended and supported the fight against cancer.

A supportive collaboration between the Club and the Mays Cancer Center

One of the most memorable fundraising events held at the Club was a Dialogue & Discovery Dinner hosted by Club Members, Jan and Frank Newton and Diane and Phil Pfeiffer, which raised $100,000 in one evening to support the cancer center’s efforts to apply for a SPORE grant from the NCI to advance innovative breast and prostate cancer research. Much progress has been made in these two important areas over the past several years thanks to the generous support from the first “Cordillera Research Circle” that was formed by several Club Members – the Newtons, Pfeiffers, Northingtons, Hills, Haywoods, Hunkes, Dommerts, Stephens, Bushes and Brazils. Plans are underway to invite these special donors to an appreciation dinner at the Club this fall hosted by Dr. Ruben Mesa, Director of the Mays Cancer Center, to provide personal updates from the research leaders in breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Another exciting event was an educational panel discussion and dinner hosted by Harriet and Austin Helmle, which featured UT Health San Antonio and Mays Cancer Center experts in cardiology, orthopaedics, cancer and liver disease. This popular and well-attended event was moderated by Dr. William Henrich, President of UT Health San Antonio. The panelists answered a myriad of questions from the attendees who expressed their gratitude for the wealth of information that was presented at the event.

Due to the increased desire for more informational and educational opportunities for the Club Members, Director of Membership, Debbie Pepper, and Sheri Ortiz, Executive Director of Principal Gifts at the Mays Cancer Center, are collaborating to plan several exciting events to take place this fall and winter. 

Dialogue & Discovery Dinner – Future Club events are in the works for another Dialogue & Discovery Dinner featuring Dr. Tyler Curiel from the Mays Cancer Center to discuss “The Revolution in Immunotherapy.” Immunotherapy is one of the most promising and innovative ways to treat cancer using the body’s immune system to kill cancer cells. Dr. Curiel is one of the world’s leading experts in this area of cutting-edge cancer research.

Member Lunch and Tour of the Mays Cancer Center – Additionally, Debbie and Sheri are planning a Member Lunch and Tour of the Mays Cancer Center facilities and labs hosted by Dr. Ruben Mesa and featuring key leaders in radiation oncology, medical oncology, clinical trials and DNA repair. The cancer center will arrange for a bus to transport attendees to and from the Club so they can see and hear first-hand about the latest discoveries and amazing progress being made in cancer research and patient care.

Ladies Luncheon at the Club – Plans are also underway for a Ladies Luncheon at the Club featuring presentations from Mays Cancer Center experts in women’s cancers with the opportunity to ask personal questions and have candid discussions about women’s health issues and concerns. 

Member Coffee hosted by the SA Cancer Council – There will also be a Member Coffee hosted by the SA Cancer Council, the non-profit organization whose mission is to support the Mays Cancer Center by providing financial and volunteer resources for cancer research, treatment, education, community outreach and patient assistance. This dedicated group of more than 400 volunteers works tirelessly to advance the goals of the cancer center. Many Council members live in Cordillera Ranch. 

As soon as these dates are set, the Club will be sending information and invitations for these and other special events that are being planned to help educate and keep members and residents of Cordillera Ranch informed. For more information, please contact Debbie Pepper at 830.336.3544 or Sheri Ortiz at 210.450.5512. 

“We are incredibly fortunate to have the world renowned Mays Cancer Center at UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson nearby. Cancer is very personal to me as I lost both of my parents to cancer, and like everyone, Barbara and I have many friends who have been affected by or died from this terrible disease. We feel it is both a privilege and an obligation to financially support the incredible research and work that is being done by the Mays Cancer Center to find the most effective treatments and cures for the various forms of cancer.” – David Hill, Developer of Cordillera Ranch


The Mays Cancer Center, home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson, is the only National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated cancer center in San Antonio and South Texas. There are only four such cancer centers with this prestigious designation in the state of Texas and only 70 in the entire country.

Through the Mays Cancer Center’s affiliation with world-renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center, the people of San Antonio and South Texas have expanded access to leading-edge expertise in multidisciplinary, research-driven, and personalized patient-centered cancer care. Because this exceptional level of care is available right here in San Antonio, our citizens can stay close to home to receive the very best cancer treatments available anywhere in the world.

The Mays Cancer Center is transforming cancer care and taking its place among the world’s most respected centers devoted exclusively to cutting-edge cancer research and unparalleled patient care. Our physicians and scientists are unlocking the mysteries of disease and translating discoveries into the latest life-saving treatment options. By combining our strengths, we are enhancing cancer care, spurring innovative cancer research, investing in new drug discoveries and strengthening our efforts to educate and train the next generation of cancer leaders. Together, we are united by one mission: to end cancer.

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