About the Award
The Ragab Spirit of Hope Award is presented at the Believe Ball to individuals who exhibit those character traits for which Dr. Ragab was known: compassion, dedication, perseverance, and innovation.
At the 2017 Believe Ball, we honored Dr. Ragab for his compassion, dedication, perseverance, and innovation. He was a brilliant doctor who was passionate about fighting childhood cancer. Despite dismal survival rates, Dr. Ragab refused to give up on any one of his children. He called colleagues around the country, searched for new clinical trials, and thought to try combining drugs. It did not always work – but sometimes it did. CURE board member, Matt Gephardt is one of the lives he saved. Diagnosed at only 18 months old with the odds stacked against him, Dr. Ragab scoured the earth to save Matt’s life. When treatments failed, he consulted colleagues at other institutions and tried a combination of drugs that had not been tried before and Matt survived. At the Believe Ball, we were able to reunite Matt and his parents, Former US Congressman Richard Gephardt and his wife, Jane, with Dr. Ragab for a very special presentation.
About Dr. Ragab
Dr. Abdel Ragab was the Director of Emory University’s Pediatric Hematology/Oncology division from 1974 until his retirement in 1993 and the founder of CURE Childhood Cancer.
When Abdel Ragab was ten years old, his 14-year-old cousin was diagnosed with leukemia. Watching her suffer and ultimately die at the hands of cancer left an everlasting impact on him. The idea to one day become a doctor to help children with cancer was born.
After beginning his career as a pediatric oncologist in St. Louis, Dr. Ragab came to Atlanta in 1974 to become the Director of Emory University’s Pediatric Hematology/Oncology division. He remained in that role until he retired in 1993. In addition to building the Pediatric Oncology research program, Dr. Ragab directed the care and treatment of thousands of childhood cancer patients throughout the southeast.
Dr. Ragab founded CURE Childhood Cancer in 1975 out of necessity. He did not have the equipment needed to differentiate between subtypes of leukemia, thus lacking the information needed to direct the care of his patients. In two years, CURE raised the money needed to purchase the special microscope. That was just the beginning. Over the years, under Dr. Ragab’s leadership, CURE continued to contribute to the establishment of a pediatric cancer research program and provide family support.
It is a cruel irony that on December 3, 2017, Dr. Ragab passed away after a battle with cancer. The disease he spent his life studying and fighting stole life from him. It is important to all of us at CURE that Dr. Ragab’s legacy continue in a way that would make him proud. And so, we have created the Ragab Spirit of Hope Award to be presented each year at the Believe Ball to individuals who exhibit those character traits for which Dr. Ragab was known: compassion, dedication, perseverance and innovation.