News Release

August 11, 2008

Contact: Chris DeFrancesco, 860-679-3914

Imagine Gala Returns for Second Year

To Benefit UConn Health Center’s Cancer Survivor, Blood Disorder Programs

FARMINGTON, CONN. – A formal event introduced last year to raise money for the Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Connecticut Health Center continues this fall.

The 2008 Imagine Gala will take place Saturday, Oct. 18, at 6 p.m. at the Bushnell in Hartford. This year’s honorees are:

  • Peter J. Deckers, M.D., who recently retired as the Health Center’s executive vice president for health affairs and dean of the UConn School of Medicine. Deckers is a nationally recognized breast surgeon who is continuing his practice at the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center. He is a steadfast supporter of cancer research and education.
  • Michael Economos, founder of the Hartford nonprofit Lea’s Foundation for Leukemia Research, which committed $1.25 million to establish the Lea’s Foundation Center for Hematologic Disorders at the UConn Health Center. Economos is the President/CEO and founder of Automated Blasting Systems and Becon Inc., both in South Windsor, and Sound Construction & Engineering in Bloomfield.
  • Donald “Dee” Rowe, head coach of the UConn men’s basketball program from 1969 through 1977, longtime university ambassador, and cancer survivor.

Connecticut native and two-time Tony Award winner James Naughton will provide the evening’s entertainment. Proceeds will go toward the Lea’s Foundation Center for Hematologic Disorders and UConn Survive, a new initiative to support clinical and research programs for cancer survivors.

“We’re delighted to recognize the contributions of three outstanding individuals, while at the same time raising funds for two very worthy programs within our cancer center,” says Carolyn D. Runowicz, M.D., director of the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Continuing in the tradition of the elegant gala last year, this year’s event promises to be just as spectacular.”

The Lea’s Foundation Center for Hematologic Disorders is a partnership between Lea’s Foundation for Leukemia Research and the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center to establish a regional center of excellence for research and world-class care for patients with leukemia and other blood disorders such as sickle cell disease, lymphoma and multiple myeloma.

UConn Survive will serve as a central resource for cancer survivors. It will be staffed by experienced professionals who will coordinate their care, with a specific interest in meeting the needs of young cancer survivors as they transition into adult care.

The event is organized and run by a committee of nearly three-dozen volunteers, chaired by Carla Schwartz of Colchester, who also oversaw the inaugural 2007 gala. Last year’s event, a masked ball held at Hartford's Wadsworth Atheneum, drew more than 300 guests and raised more than $250,000 for the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Cutaneous Oncology Center.

More information about the 2008 Imagine Gala, including how to become a sponsor, purchase tickets, or make a gift to the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center, is available by calling 860-679-4569 or emailing Christine Capasso at

Caption: Dr. Peter Deckers, breast surgeon at the UConn Health Center, who recently retired as its executive vice president for health affairs and dean of the UConn School of Medicine.

Caption: Michael Economos, South Windsor businessman and founder of Lea’s Foundation for Leukemia Research.

Caption: Former UConn men’s basketball coach Donald “Dee” Rowe (left) at his induction into the Huskies of Honor, Feb. 5, 2007, with UConn Athletic Director Jeff Hathaway.

UConn Health includes the schools of medicine and dental medicine, the UConn Medical Group, University Dentists, and John Dempsey Hospital. Home to Bioscience Connecticut, UConn Health pursues a mission of providing outstanding health care education in an environment of exemplary patient care, research and public service. More information about UConn Health is available at

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