Immune to Cancer: The CRI Blog




CRI Associate Board Pours Out Hope at UnWINEd 

Master Sommelier Daniel Jung pours a glass of wine at UnWINEd, an event hosted by the CRI Associate Board. The event raised $35,635.10.

On Thursday, June 13, 2024, the Cancer Research Institute (CRI) Associate Board hosted an unforgettable evening at Somm Cellars: the UnWINEd event.  

This exclusive wine-tasting experience brought together supporters and wine enthusiasts for a night of fine wines, expert insights, and charitable giving, all in support of CRI’s groundbreaking cancer research. 

CRI Associate Board Co-Chair, Trent Kososki, introduces CRI ImmunoAdvocate, Brendan Connors.

The evening began with a warm welcome at 6:00 pm from CRI Associate Board Co-Chair, Trent Kososki, who flew in from California for the event. Mr. Kososki then introduced CRI ImmunoAdvocate Brendan Connors.  

Brendan was always a competitive athlete and thrill seeker, but then came cancer. Battling stage 4 metastatic melanoma, he underwent surgeries and was selected to participate in immunotherapy clinical trials.   

“I made a rule early on [during treatment] for my family, especially my mom, there was no crying. You must stay positive, and that feeling helps,” Brendan said. “Wherever you’re at, it can always be worse. If you can stay positive and trust that with the medicine, the research and the doctors all knowing what they’re doing, their job is to keep you alive.” 

Brendan’s story proved to be the perfect segue for uncorking a little hope, setting the stage for a journey through some of the world’s most classic wine regions.  

With his father, mother, and brother watching, CRI ImmunoAdvocate Brendan Connors shares his cancer journey and the impact of immunotherapy in saving his life.

Guided by Master Sommelier Daniel Jung, attendees enjoyed a private tasting that highlighted the Old-World benchmarks, including exquisite selections from Italy, Spain, and France.  

Attendees tried a variety of wines from Italy, Spain and France.

Each flight—Italian benchmarks from Sicily, Piedmont, and Tuscany; Spanish benchmarks from Rias Baixas, Ribera del Duero, and Rioja; and French benchmarks from Burgundy, Bordeaux, and the Rhône Valley—was expertly curated to showcase the finest expressions of these renowned regions. 

Following the guided tasting, guests were treated to an exclusive shopping experience, where they could purchase impeccably sourced wines and spirits with personalized recommendations from the Somm Cellars team.  

Along with CRI Associate Board Co-Chairpersons, Samantha Knapik and Trent Kososki, Associate Board members Robert Chen, Isabelle Franks, John Gallotta, Andrew Goldman, Matt Goldman, Jack Griffin, and Jamie Hanfling joined the wine-tasting. 

Generously, 12% of sales from this private event were donated directly to CRI, further supporting our mission to save more lives through the development and discovery of powerful immunotherapies for all types of cancer. Those in attendance also had the opportunity to bid on items in CRI’s online silent auction that runs through June 27. 

The UnWINEd event is a testament to the CRI Associate Board’s dedication to advancing cancer research. They helped kick off Cancer Immunotherapy MonthTM with a fundraiser at BARRY’S NoHo on June 1. Both events are part of CRI’s ongoing match campaign, where every donation will be matched up to $300,000 by a group of generous donors until June 30, 2024

UnWINEd raised $17,817.55, which was matched dollar for dollar, ultimately leading to $35,635.10 being raised for CRI in a matter of hours. The BARRY’S NoHo event raised $4,314.58 that was matched equally for a total of $8,629.16.

The funds raised and the awareness generated through both events play a crucial role in CRI’s ongoing efforts to create a world immune to cancer. Thank you to everyone who attended and contributed to making this night a resounding success. 

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