Transforming lives for over four decades

Jennye Grider

The UK Markey Cancer Foundation has a long history of helping donors create lasting legacies.

The ringing of a ceremonial bell. The clang of hammers as a new building takes shape. The impact of philanthropy is in many ways immeasurable, and it can’t be calculated in dollars alone. It’s measured by the many ways lives are touched and often forever changed.

The UK Markey Cancer Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the UK Markey Cancer Center. Over the last 45 years, the foundation has been the largest donor to UK, giving over $100 million. Countless professorships, chairs and fellowships have aided Markey’s leadership in recruiting the best and brightest. Four new buildings have improved access to patient care. Donations have fueled research in the battle against cancer. Direct assistance has made it easier for patients to get the treatment they need.

“Philanthropy is how our donors live their values out loud,” said Michael Delzotti, CFRE, FAHP, president and CEO of the Markey Cancer Foundation. “It allows them to help create the world they believe in. Philanthropy has had a disproportionate impact at Markey because it is targeted specifically to priorities articulated by leadership. It allows Markey to be strategic as they look to the future, but also nimble as they respond to emerging opportunities.”

A new capital campaign

Markey already delivers world-class care to patients from Kentucky and beyond. A new capital campaign will take those efforts to the next level. Already, the Markey Cancer Foundation has received two campaign gifts:

  • A $2 million gift from an anonymous member of the foundation board
  • A $5 million gift from the William Stamps Farish Fund

The campaign includes numerous ways to support cancer care and research at Markey, with a focus on investments in three key areas:

Our people: Markey is stepping up its efforts to attract and retain world-class oncologists, researchers and faculty and fund vital research. “Every cancer center in the country is trying to recruit the top talent,” said Dr. Mark Evers, director of the Markey Cancer Center. “We are effectively competing with all of the big cancer centers throughout the U.S. for a relatively limited talent pool of investigators and clinicians.” Giving opportunities include new endowed chairs and professorships in areas including cancer education, biostatistics and precision medicine.

Our future: The Appalachian Career Training in Oncology Program – ACTION – is designed to increase enrollment in graduate and professional science degree programs. Students from Kentucky’s 54 Appalachian counties participate in research, cancer care, career training and coaching. “ACTION is an experiential training program for youth from Appalachian Kentucky … where we prepare and motivate students to pursue cancer careers,” said program director Nathan Vanderford, PhD, MBA. A named endowment and program support for ACTION will help Markey continue to inspire tomorrow’s cancer leaders.

Our facilities: A new comprehensive cancer building for patient care and clinical research will create a centralized home for world-class treatment. The building will double patient capacity, expand Markey’s research footprint and include a center for precision medicine. Alex Boone, a Markey Cancer Foundation trustee, is chair of the capital campaign steering committee. Boone lost his wife and mother to cancer. “It means a lot to me and my family, and Markey is extremely important to Kentucky because, regretfully, we lead the nation in at least three different types of cancer,” Boone said. “So I will continue to do whatever I can do to help fellow Kentuckians fight this horrible disease.”

“Philanthropy is how our donors live their values out loud. It allows them to help create the world they believe in.”

Michael Delzotti, CFRE, FAHP

Supporting women with cancer

While Cathy Wolterman Coop received cancer treatment at Markey, she couldn’t help but see women around her who were struggling. Many were barely making ends meet. They drove themselves to appointments, worked full-time and cared for their families — all while going through cancer treatment. Their stories touched Cathy, and she shared them with her family and friends.

On Cathy’s last birthday in 2013, her husband, Brent, and friends and family created the Cathy Coop Fund to support women receiving cancer treatment at Markey and honor Cathy in a lasting and meaningful way. The fund provides money for lodging, transportation, living expenses, medicine, food, wigs and more. It has also provided muchneeded lodging support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to help women traveling long distances for their care. An annual fundraising event organized by the family has helped raise over $280,000 since the fund’s inception.

Advancing NET research

A $1 million gift to the Markey Cancer Foundation will create the world’s first distinguished professorship in neuroendocrine tumor (NET) research. The gift from the Amanda W. Lockey Foundation was given in support of Markey oncologist Dr. Lowell Anthony, who specializes in neuroendocrine tumor treatment. Anthony has treated Lockey at Markey since 2015. She and her husband, Payton, had previously funded a clinical trial for neuroendocrine research.

The gift is the largest given to the Markey Cancer Foundation from the Amanda W. Lockey Foundation in the last three years. It comes as part of a campaign in support of Markey’s application for National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center status.

The professorship will support the work of Anthony’s team by allowing them to focus on clinical and translational research and development of a radiotherapeutic program. “This generous gift is recognition of our expertise in neuroendocrine tumors and will allow the center to advance our understanding of NET biology,” Anthony said. “The NET professorship provides additional resources to support our growth in translational NET research and making Markey cutting-edge with this technology.”

Health care and horses

A marriage of two Lexington institutions raises funds each year for Markey. The Fayette Alliance Foundation and the Markey Cancer Foundation come together to host an Evening in the Gardens the evening before the Keeneland Bluegrass International Cup. The 2022 event was held, as always, at the historic Mount Brilliant Farm, where 150 guests enjoyed a gourmet dinner, signature cocktails and a live auction.

“The Markey Cancer Foundation would like to extend a special thank you to Greg Goodman and the Mt. Brilliant Family Foundation for the continued support of the Bluegrass International Cup.”

Michael Delzotti, CFRE, FAHP

The event celebrates two of Lexington’s most important assets — health care and horse farms. The Markey Cancer Foundation supports outstanding health care in Kentucky, and the Fayette Alliance focuses on maintaining the area’s bucolic nature while promoting sustainable growth. The fundraiser is the brainchild of H. Greg Goodman, owner of Mount Brilliant. Goodman is a former member of the Markey Cancer Foundation Board of Trustees and a founder of the Fayette Alliance.

Women empowering women

For six consecutive years, Markey Women Strong – a program of the Markey Cancer Foundation – has supported female-led research teams at Markey. A total of $600,000 has been awarded through the program’s annual Distinguished Researcher Grants. The 2022 grant recipients were Dr. Jill Kolesar and Dr. Krystle Kuhs, who each received a $50,000 grant.

Started in 2016, Markey Women Strong funds female cancer researchers focused on advancing the fight against the disease at UK. Each Markey Women Strong member contributes $1,000 annually. Members read grant applications, hear from the researchers and vote on the awards.

Kolesar is researching new treatment options for ovarian cancer, which frequently becomes resistant to standard treatments. The drugs she’s studying target the mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell. “This award enables us to move our very promising new anti-cancer medications one step closer to clinical trials in women with ovarian cancer,” Kolesar said. “With the help of Markey Women Strong, we are working to end deaths due to this disease.”

Kuhs is studying antibodies that may be a risk marker for HPV-driven throat cancer in men. The research could generate screening methods for detection of this cancer. “I am incredibly honored and humbled to be chosen for this award,” Kuhs said. “Kentucky has one of the highest rates of throat cancer in the country. This award will help us develop better ways to detect throat cancer earlier.”

Recognizing caregivers

Honoring outstanding caregivers is another way to give back to Markey. When Patrick A. Hayden had CAR T-cell therapy to treat lymphoma at Markey, he was impressed by all his providers, but the compassion and care of six doctors and nurses stood out. Hayden recognized those providers with a $6,000 contribution to the Markey Cancer Foundation. “Their concern meant a lot to me and my family and in turn made this uncertain, and at times scary, process much better,” Hayden wrote in his letter to the foundation. “I appreciate the world-class services of the UK Markey Cancer Center and the amazing efforts of the foundation.”

With his gift, Hayden honored Dr. Gerhard C. Hildebrandt; Dr. Bryce Perkins; Christi L. Conley, APRN; Jody Gibbs, RN; Haley McKirahan, RN; and Susan Harvey, APRN.

This content was produced by UK HealthCare Brand Strategy.

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