The life of the WunderGlo Foundation’s late founder Gloria Borges was celebrated and memorialized recently during the presentation of a $500,000 gift toward colon cancer research at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Borges, who died in January 2014, dedicated the last three years of her life to creation of the WunderGlo Foundation, which seeks to eliminate colon cancer by funding research to find a cure.

The funds will support the research efforts of Heinz-Josef Lenz, associate director of clinical research and co-leader of the Gastrointestinal Cancers Program at USC Norris. A world-renowned faculty physician and clinical researcher, Lenz, MD, was Borges’ doctor during her own fight against colon cancer.

“Gloria was a true cancer warrior,” recalls Lenz. “When we originally partnered together to find a cure for colon cancer, she knew her fight would not be easy, but believed that the Wunder Project could make a difference by finding a cure.”

Colon cancer kills about 50,000 Americans each year, ranking as the third-leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

After receiving her diagnosis of Stage IV cancer in September 2010, Borges launched a blog, www.WunderGlo.com, which detailed her struggles and triumphs throughout the duration of an aggressive treatment plan. Her candid, optimistic and powerful words have inspired thousands of readers and dozens of cancer patients.

Stephen B. Gruber, MD, PhD, director of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, offered welcoming remarks at the Dec. 8 event to commemorate the WunderGlo Foundation’s extraordinary contributions to colon cancer research.

“Dr. Lenz is a world-leading authority in colon cancer research, and his cutting-edge research program is already making a difference for patients around the globe and right here at the Norris,” Gruber said. “There is no better person to lead the effort to find a cure for colon cancer.”

Lenz has focused his research on the regulation of gene expression involved in drug resistance and developing innovative methods of early detection and regulation of colon cancers.

“We know that a cure for this deadly cancer is possible,” said Lenz, “and this contribution to the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center is just the beginning.”

The $500,000 gift is part of an ongoing campaign by the WunderGlo Foundation to raise $250 million for colon cancer research, with the goal of finding a cure within the next 10 years.

“This half a million dollars is a beginning for the Wunder Project in its partnership with USC to find a cure for colon cancer” said Rebecca Keller, executive director of the Gloria Borges WunderGlo Foundation and the mother of Gloria Borges.

“Gloria’s brilliant and accomplished life continues to shine through in the work she did, the love she gave, and the boundless energy that she exemplified through it all,” Keller said.

“From day one of her life to the final moments of her journey, Gloria left us with a legacy — her legacy and ours — to find the cure for cancer, and have a blast while doing it. I am deeply honored to carry on with the all-important mission of Gloria’s beloved WunderGlo Foundation,” she said.

— Ellen Gruber