Sanford Health gives $100 million to target breast cancer
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- A $100 million gift to Sanford Health from retired banker and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford will target breast cancer as part of a plan to establish a national institute fighting the disease.
Brian Mortenson, president of Sanford Health Foundation, said an estimated 10 million women are living with diagnosed breast cancer.
"This is a very personal cause for nearly everyone, whether it be with a mother, wife, sister, daughter or friend," Mortenson told the Argus Leader newspaper.
Officials said further details of the initiative will be explained in August, likely in conjunction with what the health care system calls its annual children's gala.
Sanford has given more than half a billion dollars to the former Sioux Valley Hospitals & Health System that became Sanford Health in 2007. The Sioux Falls-based health system in 2009 merged with Fargo, N.D.-based MeritCare, forming what officials say is the nation's largest not-for-profit rural health care provider.
"This new initiative will create a world-class center for the research, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer in keeping with the standard of excellence in Sanford's cancer and other programs," Mortenson told the Forum newspaper of Fargo.
The chance of a woman developing breast cancer today is about one in eight, said Jill Ireland, an American Cancer Society official in South Dakota.
"Certainly having this gift is going to be tremendous not only for the women in South Dakota, but for everyone who's afflicted with the disease," Ireland told the Argus Leader.
Sanford made his fortune as owner of First Premier Bank and Premier Bankcard. His $400 million pledge to Sanford Health in 2007 included a goal of curing a major disease. That money is being used to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes and establish children's clinics around the world.