Jerry Levine Donor Story
The year is 1946. A Juilliard School of Music clarinet major from Pittsburgh meets a Radio City Music Hall ballet dancer from Cleveland while they are both living in a New York City boarding house. They fall in love, marry and live happily ever after. Sounds like the script from a movie, but it's the real-life story of Jerry Levine and his beloved late wife, Evelyn.
"Evelyn and I had a lovely courtship in New York," Jerry says. "I was a student, so we couldn't afford to get married until I graduated. We moved to Pittsburgh where I made my living as a musician."
Over the years, Jerry performed in many places with a variety of prominent musicians, including Engelbert Humperdinck, Sonny and Cher and Johnny Mathis.
"I also had the opportunity to play at Carnegie Hall with the Pittsburgh Symphony," Jerry says.
While music and dance played pivotal roles at the beginning of their relationship, Jerry and Evelyn also were touched by cancer and both treated successfully at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
"When I was in my 40s, I was diagnosed with melanoma and referred to MD Anderson," Jerry says. "Back then, it was a relatively small building in the Texas Medical Center. After a couple of operations, they saved my life. I was eternally grateful."
Jerry says he never thought he'd have to go back to MD Anderson again.
"But that's exactly where I went when I was diagnosed with prostate cancer," he says.
This was several years after his first visit to Houston, and Jerry and Evelyn were amazed by MD Anderson's growth and progress.
"MD Anderson had practically become a city," Jerry says. "We met people from all over the world receiving care, and the advances in treatments and technology were revolutionary."
After Jerry's successful prostate cancer treatment, Evelyn's breast cancer diagnosis led them back to Houston for a third time.
"My wife received the same lifesaving care that I did," Jerry says. "She benefited from a remarkable type of chemotherapy that MD Anderson pioneered. With their knowledge and dedication, they saved her life, too."
Because MD Anderson "gave Evelyn and me lots of life together," Jerry decided to create two charitable gift annuities benefiting the institution.
"The gift annuities are appealing because the payments add to my retirement income and provide some tax benefits," Jerry says. "I am very pleased with my gift annuities not only for the payments I receive, but also for the feeling of 'paying back' MD Anderson for all they did for us."
Knowing they were getting the best possible medical attention lifted a huge burden, says Jerry.
"Evelyn and I loved MD Anderson," Jerry says. "That's why I am so pleased to be able to support MD Anderson now through my gift annuities."