A Benefit for the Patty Liberatore Fund for Cancer Patients in Need

Robert Liberatore launched the fund to honor his late wife’s wishes.

By: Dori Zweig, Emily Thompson

Throughout her six-year struggle with breast cancer, local philanthropist Patricia Liberatore never had to worry about how she would afford her costly treatments. But she knew other patients who were struggling to keep up with their payments and wanted to find a way to give back to Sibley Memorial Hospital, where she was receiving care. So her husband, Robert Liberatore, suggested they start a fund to help cancer patients in need pay for treatments at Sibley. “She gave me one of those electric smiles and said, ‘Oh, please do that. I would love that,’” he said.

Soon after that conversation, on July 15, 2012, Patricia passed away at age 67.

But Robert was determined to carry out his wife’s request. So he launched the Patty Liberatore Fund with a personal donation of $100,000. The fund will help patients who wouldn’t otherwise have the means to pay for cancer treatment at Sibley, childcare during treatment, and transportation to and from the hospital.

On March 14, Liberatore opened up his home in Spring Valley to friends and family for an evening of appetizers, wine, and sharing memories of his wife. The benefit, planned by the Sibley Memorial Hospital Foundation, also gave Liberatore a chance to introduce the fund to the community.

When guests arrived at the white, two-story house situated in the middle of a cul de sac, they were greeted by friendly valets and Sibley event organizers. Walking through the house offered a chance to see photographs of Patricia displayed throughout the study, hallway, dining room, kitchen, and living room. Susan Gage Caterers served sparkling glasses of wine and platters of shrimp on a bed of grits, chicken skewers with an aïoli dipping sauce, and mushroom quesadillas. More than 130 guests attended, including congressman John Dingell, American University’s Anita McBride, high-profile attorney George Vradenburg, and Michael Berman of the Durbenstein Group.

Midway through the evening, attendees gathered in the living room to hear a few words from Liberatore, as well as from Sibley Hospital president Chip Davis; Patricia’s doctor, Fred Smith; and Patricia’s longtime friend, Courtney Pastrick, who is also a breast cancer survivor.* The speakers each contributed short stories about Patricia and explained her desire to help others. Liberatore opened with a description of his wife from a note he once received. “Patty had a smile that could light a small city,” he said.

So far, the Patty Liberatore Fund has raised $210,000. For more information about the cause, visit the Sibley Memorial Hospital Foundation website.

Robert Liberatore with sons David Straub (left) and Patrick Straub (right).
The event organizers, Kristen Pruski and Arlene Synder, have worked together for more than ten years.*

*This post has been updated from a previous version.