An iconic Hollywood star has a special connection to Fort Worth, and it brought something good in the fight against cancer over the weekend.
The John Wayne Grit Series made its debut in the Historic Fort Worth Stockyards. Five hundred runners and walkers showed their grit in the fight against cancer in a 5K event that raised almost $70,000 for the John Wayne Cancer Foundation.
The legendary actor beat lung cancer but died 15 years later of stomach cancer in 1979. During his own fight, he became passionate about helping others fight the disease, and his family started the nonprofit in 1985.
"They were trying some experimental treatments on him and he said, just keep trying and whatever you learn can help other people. And he looked at us kids and he said, 'I want you to use my name to help the doctors fight cancer,'" son Ethan Wayne told NBC 5. "John Wayne is responsible for the sentinel biopsy technique, the seeds of immunotherapy, vaccine therapy, monoclonal antibodies; a lot of this technology was developed at John Wayne."
The foundation focuses on research, a fellowship program that's trained more than 200 doctors, community support and an education program to teach kids about skin cancer protection and prevention. Texas Tech University Health Science Center in Lubbock is one of the foundation's newest fellowship partners.
Ethan Wayne shares that legacy in an exhibit that honors his dad's personal and professional life as well as the American values he cherished. John Wayne: An American Experience opened earlier this year in the Stockyards.
The family shared never-before-seen photos and mementos from Wayne's childhood in Iowa where he was born Marion Morrison through a 50-year career that featured him in almost 200 films.
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"My father had a significant film legacy, and we knew there was a lot of interest from the fans to see his personal and professional items we've been storing, a pretty significant archive we've been caring for a long time, and we looked around the country for the right place to put it," Ethan Wayne said. "And nothing seemed to be the right fit" until he met two men deeply involved with the Fort Worth Stockyards.
Ethan Wayne came and toured the site, listened to the plans and made the decision to house the collection in Fort Worth. "It's basically the hub of Western lifestyle," he said.