Hollings takes the helm: Cancer center to host sailing regatta

July 11, 2022
photo of sailboats with people sitting with their legs hanging over and the city visible in the background
MUSC Hollings Cancer Center patient, donor and board member Ben Hagood is excited to have Hollings take on the fundraising regatta that has been held in Charleston for 25 years. Photos provided

Grab your deck shoes and some sunscreen – MUSC Hollings Cancer Center is going sailing.

This September, Hollings, along with the Charleston Ocean Racing Association, will host the MUSC Hollings Cup Regatta in Charleston Harbor to raise funds for lifesaving cancer research happening here at MUSC, benefiting cancer patients throughout South Carolina.

Although the event is new to Hollings, it is not new to local sailors. In fact, 2021 marked the 25th anniversary of the Leukemia Cup Regatta in Charleston. In that quarter century, the local sailing community raised more than $3 million for cancer research and patient care, said Ben Hagood, a sailor who is both a patient and a board member at Hollings.

“I think it’s been important to the sailing community because a lot of people are affected by cancer, whether sailors, crew members, family members or sponsors,” he said. “They have a direct connection with cancer and realize the importance of funding research and patient care.” 

"We are humbled that local sailors, who are dedicated to the cause of ending cancer, are entrusting us to further research in this area.”

Raymond N. DuBois, M.D., Ph.D.
MUSC Hollings Cancer Center director

The race in Charleston was part of a national network of boating races under the umbrella of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which all together raised more than $73 million since launching the event in 1988. The society used the money to provide financial assistance to families and to fund research at cancer centers across the nation.

When the national society made the difficult decision to discontinue staff support for the local races this year, the Charleston sailing community decided to keep the regatta going but with Hollings as the recipient of the funds raised. The more that the local leadership team has learned about Hollings, Hagood said, the more that enthusiasm for the idea grew.

Hollings director Raymond N. Dubois, M.D., Ph.D., is excited about the new event as well.

“Hollings Cancer Center has accepted the honor of hosting this regatta that was previously presented by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society,” he said. “We are humbled that local sailors, who are dedicated to the cause of ending cancer, are entrusting us to further research in this area.”

Hagood has seen firsthand the patient care at Hollings. He received a bone marrow transplant at Hollings in 2017 for B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia after being in remission for six years from multiple myeloma, and he continues to receive follow-up care here.

He appreciates the high standard of care at Hollings and the collaborative spirit between clinicians and researchers.

“Having dealt with two different blood cancers and referred a lot of friends to Hollings and having done treatments out of state before I found Hollings, I really appreciate what Hollings brings to the people of South Carolina and to people right here in Charleston,” he said.

An avid sailor, Hagood is ready to get out on the water for a cause he believes in.