Members of Cancer Funding Partners, a council dedicated to generating support among their peers for KU’s Cancer Center, are:
Barbara Allen, director of the Driven to Cure Foundation and former Kansas state senator; Jill Docking, chairwoman of the Kansas Board of Regents; David Frantze, partner at Stinson Morrison Hecker, LLP; Greg Graves, CEO of Burns & McDonnell; Bill Hall, president of the Hall Family Foundation; Drue Jennings, senior counsel for Polsinelli Shugart, LLP; Mark Killen, chief marketing officer of American Century Investments; Floriene Lieberman, community advocate; Stephen Miller, partner of Miller Schirger, LLC; Gary Sherrer, chairman of Midwest Cancer Alliance Partners Advisory Board and vice chairman of the Kansas Board of Regents; Anne St. Peter, founder of Global Prairie and immediate past chairwoman of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce; and Charlie Sunderland, CEO of Ash Grove Cement Co.
A group of Kansas City and Wichita business and civic leaders are taking up the cause of raising money for Kansas University’s National Cancer Institute designation.
The effort got an initial boost Monday from the Sunderland Foundation, which announced a $1 million gift to the KU Cancer Center.
But there’s still a long way yet to go, said Charlie Sunderland, CEO of the Overland Park-based Ash Grove Cement Co., who is heading the newly formed fundraising council. He said the group hopes to raise $92 million by the time KU applies for the designation in September 2011.
“I really see this as the major civic opportunity for the Midwest to support,” Sunderland said Monday afternoon.
He said the group will focus on the humanitarian and economic benefits the center will bring.
Dollars are needed for KU’s Cancer Center effort to raise money to continue to attract top-quality cancer researchers — an area that has been in focus for the cancer center recently.
Today, cancer patients have to travel long distances to receive high-quality care — often to NCI centers in places such as Houston, Sunderland said.
He is himself a beneficiary of cancer research, having been diagnosed more than 15 years ago with a slow-moving, treatable form of leukemia.
“Not all cancer patients are so lucky,” said Sunderland, who also serves on the authority board for KU Hospital. “I’m a direct beneficiary of a lot of good research that’s been done before.”
Former KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway made NCI designation KU’s top research priority — a sentiment echoed by current KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little.
“Support from the Sunderlands and this council reinforce how our research into cancer treatments and cures speaks to families everywhere,” Gray-Little said in a statement on Monday. “We are heartened to see committed people jump on board.”
Greg Graves, CEO of Burns & McDonnell and another member of the new council, agreed that the cause was an important one.
“I can’t imagine anything more critical to the future of the Kansas City metro area in terms of a single item than KU Hospital achieving NCI designation,” he said.