When two remarkable men, both cancer survivors, sit down to talk about life, health and football, it could be a $1 million moment. That was the case when Houston Texans owner Bob McNair and esteemed newsman Tom Brokaw headlined M.D. Anderson Cancer Center's Conversation With a Living Legend.
The dinner evening at the Hilton Americas-Houston found the ballroom filled with close to 600 supporters who helped bring in the handsome sum. Among them was former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, who introduced the duo saying that they "represent simply the very best that our city, our state and our nation have to offer."
Cancer survivor and veteran news anchor Shara Fryer emceed the evening that included remarks by M.D. Anderson president Dr. Ron DePinho and a poignant video featuring patients and physicians.
NBC News Special Correspondent Brokaw was diagnosed in 2013 with multiple myeloma, a treatable but incurable blood cancer. He is in remission. McNair fought a 10-month battle with chronic lymphocytic leukemia and squamous cell carcinoma and is today cancer free.
"I don't think unless you are diagnosed with this disease," Brokaw said, "that you can fully understand how all encompassing it is. This guy cancer is open ended and he's always trying to get you."
McNair responded, "And it's always looking for a shortcut, isn't it?"
Continuing with the cancer conversation, Brokaw asked the Texans owner how had cancer changed him.
"Well, I don't have a full head of hair. But I didn't have a full head of hair when I started, either," he quipped. "It slowed me down. It makes you realize that after all you are not immortal and you need to get on with life and enjoy and appreciate all the things in life that you should be appreciate."
The chat ranged between McNair's humble beginnings in South Carolina to his business successes to his NFL ownership. While there were no hardball questions in this genial conversation, Brokaw did ask, "Did you ever think you would have a business where you could be 3-and-5 and be number one?"
McNair admitted that it hurts to lose but that his adventure owning race horses had rendered him accustomed to the pain. "When you are winning, you realize that it is temporary and it is subject to change at any time, so don't get cocky," he said.
The evening was chaired by Kelli Kickerillo and Todd Forester with Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff serving as honorary chairs.
M.D. Anderson supporters on hand included Cathy and Giorgio Borlenghi, Bill King, Diane Lokey Farb, Dorothy and Mickey Ables, Ellie and Michael Francisco, Elyse Lanier, Jeri and Mark Shapiro, Mary and Vincent Kickerillo, Regina Rogers, Stephanie and Ernie Cockrell, Estela and David Cockrell, Rose Cullen and Houston Texans Garrett Graham with wife Ericka and Shane Lechler and wife Erin.