As the month of October continues, so do the donations from Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in River Oaks. Celebrating a milestone of 10 years, Fleming's is giving $10 from every $49.95 prix fixe dinner ordered through Nov. 4 to benefit a number a charities. One beneficiary this month was Houston-based charity United2Cure.
Though this young organization is only a year and a half old, United2Cure is making huge strides in not only its hometown but across the globe. Founder and MD Anderson anesthesiologist Gabe Mena has no problem making connections with global leaders like Ethiopia's minister of health, Panama's First Lady and other prominent officials that can get things done. After all, it's Mena's vision to help underprivileged children with cancer from any part of the world by offering them opportunities for treatment in their home countries or here in the United States.
"The children we help do not have the same possibilities that people with insurance and access to top medical care do," said Mena, who was inspired to found this organization after the birth of his daughter. "These children are basically told they have to die. To me, that is unacceptable."
Mena told the story of a little girl who had a tumor near the base of her spine the size of a softball. Doctors wanted to operate, but Mena and United2Cure's scientific committee knew that could be catastrophic. Through their recommendations on further treatment, the girl's doctors were able to shrink the tumor to the size of a golf ball and subsequently performed a successful removal surgery. Mena keeps in close contact with the family to monitor the girl's progress.
While it's a huge part of what United2Cure does, cancer isn't always the focus of their efforts. Mena says it isn't only about curing cancer, it's also about helping these children fulfill their dreams.
"These children that can overcome cancer are very strong individuals and future leaders of the world," said Mena. "I want to follow these kids throughout their lifetime."
In yet another United2Cure success story, a future leader was set on a path to achieve her dream of attending school. The South American girl paralyzed from a tumor had always hoped there was a way she could make it to school, but without a wheelchair, it just wasn't possible. United2Cure stepped in with a donated wheelchair and she was able to make her dream a reality. Now she's one of the best in her class.
With the Fleming's partnership among many other efforts, Mena reiterates how grateful he is to this community for all the support that has allowed his fledgling organization to flourish.
"I have found in Houston the most philanthropic society I've encountered in the U.S.," says Mena. "I am blown away by the culture of philanthropy here."