In an appearance on last evening”s episode of the popular television show, “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” actor Robert Urich won $125,000, all of which he plans to donate to the University Comprehensive Cancer Center”s sarcoma fund.
Urich, a sarcoma cancer survivor, owes his health to the treatment he received at the University Hospital more than two years ago.
Upon recovery, Urich and his wife founded the Heather and Robert Urich Fund for Sarcoma Research, a sector of the already established University Cancer Center.
“My vision is a world where the word “cancer” is a battle we have won,” Urich said in a written statement.
Urich”s appearance on the show helped to bring awareness and support to a disease which many people know little about.
“Urich is an avid spokesperson for people with Sarcoma,” said Laurence Baker, co-director of the University”s Connective Tissue Oncology Program.
The reputation of the center, including its state of the art treatment and research facilities, factored into Urich”s initial decision to seek help in Ann Arbor.
“Basically, you find the best place and go to it and (the University) is one of the best,” said Kara Gavin, University Medical Health System media spokesperson.
Sarcoma is an extremely rare form of cancer that constitutes close to 30 different diseases that affect connective tissues such as muscle, bone, cartilage and fat. “Out of every 100,000 people in the U.S., 5,000 of them have cancer and of these 5,000 people only two or three have sarcoma,” Gavin said.
The University has built up a team of specialists in various medical disciplines who are committed to finding a cure for cancer, while simultaneously helping relieve patients who are suffering already.
Baker said the money Urich is donating “is earmarked for furthering our knowledge of sarcoma and specifically how to make the lives of people with sarcoma better.”
Unlike many cancers, sarcoma threatens the lives of children and newborns as well as adults.
Every year, more than 5,000 people die from sarcoma while more than 11,000 cases are discovered.
“I don”t really know why he wanted to donate the money,” Baker said of Urich, “but I am delighted he did.”