CAMDEN, NJ — The ninth annual Jim Fifis Lung Cancer Research Fund Dinner, held in honor of the life of the late Ponzio's owner, raised $125,000 for the lung cancer program at MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper.

Since its founding in 2011, the annual event has raised more than $1 million to support lung cancer research at MD Anderson at Cooper.

More than 300 people gathered at Ponzio’s in Cherry Hill on Tuesday for the dinner, which celebrated the life of Jim Fifis, the restaurant's longtime owner who died of lung cancer in 2007.

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In addition to the dinner, the event featured a silent auction, music, and Ponzio’s desserts.

“As a local business owner, Jim Fifis always gave back to the community,” said Susan Bass Levin, president and CEO of the Cooper Foundation. “It is a tribute to his kindness and generosity that this event is so successful in raising funds to fight lung cancer.”

Prior to his passing, Fifis urged his three sons, Chris, Nick, and John, to advocate for a cure for lung cancer and to raise awareness about the dangers of smoking. 

“To raise $1 million in honor of my father is very humbling,” Nick Fifis said. “Our family is committed to supporting lung cancer research so that others may be spared from this devastating disease.”

Approximately one in 15 men and one in 17 women will be diagnosed with lung cancer in their lifetime. According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is the single-largest fatal form of the disease in New Jersey.

South Jersey residents have lung cancer rates that exceed the state average, according to the American Cancer Society. While cigarette smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, 10% to 15% of lung cancer patients have never smoked. Research, early detection, and clinical trials are the most effective weapons to diagnose and treat lung cancer at its earliest stage when there is the best chance for a positive outcome.

The Fifis Family underwrites the cost of the dinner so that all funds raised benefit lung cancer programs at MD Anderson at Cooper. 

“We are grateful to the Fifis family, the Cooper Foundation, and generous donors for supporting our work at MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper,” said Generosa Grana, Director of MD Anderson at Cooper. “Thanks to their generosity, we are able to continue our research to identify innovative diagnostic and treatment tools to save lives.” 

The ninth annual dinner was sponsored by Cherry Hill Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram, Vi Fifis, Donna and Rick Forman and the Forman Family, Holman Enterprises, Inc., Ravitz Family Foundation, AmeriHealth New Jersey, Delaware Valley Purchasing Group, PATHS, LLC, and The Women's Board Committee of The Cooper Foundation.

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