San Antonio (April 17, 2007) – A chain of people – including an adolescent cancer survivor, a medical student, a research fellow, and a physician and scientist – symbolized the impact of The Greehey Family Foundation’s $25 million gift to The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio during today’s ceremony honoring Bill Greehey and his family.
In recognition of the contribution, Health Science Center President Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., officially changed the names of the North Campus and the Children’s Cancer Research Institute to the Greehey Academic and Research Campus and the Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute, respectively.
To make it official, Dr. Cigarroa and Mr. Greehey rode a lift to the top of the research institute and pulled a rope revealing the new name, while confetti showered the crowd, balloons were released and music played.
The $25 million donation is the single largest private gift ever received by the Health Science Center and is one of the single largest cash contributions in the history of The University of Texas System and the city of San Antonio.
The gift will enable construction, survivorship, educational and research programs that will benefit children with cancer and chronic diseases, as well as their families, health professions students and fellows, physicians and bench scientists.
A great gift and a great name
Calling it a “transformational gift,” Health Science Center officials said that they expect the contribution to have a positive impact on San Antonio, the state and the world.
“The Greehey Academic and Research Campus and the Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute are now permanently identified with the Greehey Family, one of the greatest names in business, humanitarianism and philanthropy in our nation,” President Cigarroa said. “This $25 million donation is an unprecedented and transformational gift for the health of children and families in South Texas. Having Mr. Greehey and his family on our campus today truly makes this one of the most special and meaningful days in our history.”
A tireless advocate for giving back to the community, Mr. Greehey stepped down as Valero Energy Corporation’s chairman earlier this year to focus his full attention on his many philanthropic endeavors and his role as chairman of NuStar Energy L.P. and NuStar GP Holdings, LLC.
“San Antonio is very fortunate to have a world-class research facility here in our hometown,” Mr. Greehey said. “But as I always say, it wouldn’t be a great facility if it weren’t for all of the great people. This facility has attracted some of the top researchers in the nation and has a great leader in Dr. Cigarroa.
“We believe that this gift will help draw more world-renowned researchers in the future and will put the Health Science Center on the path to becoming one of the very best research facilities in the world. We have no doubt that the important work going on here will lead to breakthrough discoveries that will help save the lives of children — not just in San Antonio, but around the world,” he said.
Leading the fight against cancer
The $25 million gift provides:
• $4 million for students, in the form of scholarships for future clinicians and scientists focused on the health of children;
• $4 million for community outreach, to support pediatric patients and their families;
• $5 million for faculty, to recruit and retain world-class clinician-scientists to translate the latest discoveries to the bedside; and
• $12 million for capital, for state-of-the-art cancer research laboratories.
Joan and Chris Edelen of San Antonio were among the hundreds present to thank the Greehey Family. The Edelens have two sons, Christopher, 13, and Daniel, 10. Three years ago, Daniel was diagnosed with leukemia. Since that time, he has spent many days warming the hearts of the nurses, residents, doctors and other patients at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital, the Academic Children’s Hospital for the Health Science Center.
“Daniel and his family are true heroes,” President Cigarroa said. “As a family, they have been champions for curing childhood cancer and have been strong supporters of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.” He invited Mr. Edelen to the lectern to speak about the family’s experience. Daniel Edelen was unable to attend because he was taking the TAKS test at school.
‘God left her here for a reason’
Brittany Galan, 15, who was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia as a toddler, was treated at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital and has been disease-free for 13 years. She and her mother attended the Greehey celebration to express their thanks.
“She always says God left her here for a reason,” said her mother, Rosalia Hilario. “She was diagnosed at 6 weeks old, and they told me she had a 10 percent chance of survival. I said, ‘I’m taking you up on that 10 percent.’ And, she is here today.”
Brittany is a student at Bernard Harris Middle School. Chemotherapy put her a couple of years behind in her academic career, but she has made a great comeback. Her favorite subjects are American history and English, and her dream is to become a physician. She is doing so well that she only returns for checkups annually.
Brittany and Daniel exemplify the countless children and families that the Health Science Center will help through the Greehey Family Foundation’s gift.
At the Greehey CCRI, 10 laboratory teams are studying the molecular mechanisms by which cancer strikes in childhood, with an eye toward how it impacts adults, as well.
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is the leading research institution in South Texas and one of the major health sciences universities in the world. With an operating budget of $536 million, the Health Science Center is the chief catalyst for the $14.3 billion biosciences and health care industry in San Antonio’s economy. The Health Science Center has had an estimated $35 billion impact on the region since inception and has expanded to six campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. More than 22,000 graduates (physicians, dentists, nurses, scientists and allied health professionals) serve in their fields, including many in Texas. Health Science Center faculty are international leaders in cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, aging, stroke prevention, kidney disease, orthopaedics, research imaging, transplant surgery, psychiatry and clinical neurosciences, pain management, genetics, nursing, allied health, dentistry and many other fields. For more information, click on www.uthscsa.edu.