A $500,000 capstone gift from the Topeka-based Capitol Federal Foundation has fulfilled the Kansas University Cancer Center’s goal of raising $61 million before applying for National Cancer Institute designation.
The cancer center will submit its 600-page application for NCI designation next Tuesday, after years of work. The designation would mean more research funding for cancer and would be a boon for the local economy and for cancer patients seeking treatments closer to home.
Dale Seuferling, president of the KU Endowment Association, said he was pleased that so many donors supported the effort.
“Cancer is such a devastating disease, and it’s impacted so many people,” Seuferling said. “It’s been very compelling to be involved and be supportive of this effort.”
A fundraising council, led by Ash Grove Cement Co. CEO Charlie Sunderland and attorney and KU supporter Drue Jennings, formed in December 2009 to raise money for the cause.
Hundreds of donors contributed, giving gifts large and small. The money raised will count toward KU’s comprehensive fundraising campaign, Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas, which is scheduled for an April kickoff.
When the group initially formed, it announced a $92 million fundraising goal. Roy Jensen, director of the KU Cancer Center, said the center would continue to raise money to meet that goal, but made a strategic decision to narrow its initial focus.
“We wanted to focus our efforts on what we needed before the application went in,” he said.
The bulk of the remainder of the funds will be used to provide for patient care efforts, which are not as central to the research grant application for NCI designation.
The funds have been instrumental to the center’s effort, Jensen said. They have provided for research facilities, recruitment packages for senior leaders in the cancer center and the building up of the center’s research programs.
After the application, the cancer center will shift its focus to preparing for a Feb. 22 site visit from officials with the National Cancer Institute.
After that, KU will wait, Jensen said. An NCI decision on the application could take months, he said.
He said he appreciated the support of the many donors throughout the effort.
“It’s very gratifying,” Jensen said. “It’s been a pleasure to get out in the community to tell our story. It has clearly resonated with many different individuals throughout the state and Kansas City metro area.”