The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation Announces Milestone $4.2 Million Donation to Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation has announced a milestone $4.2 million donation to Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center’s quality-of-life programs — marking the Foundation’s first announced gift and kicking off the group’s distribution of its 2015 Transitional Legacy Grant Program. The donation will fund compassionate care programs that address the emotional, spiritual and social needs of the more than 31,000 patients and their families who turn to Roswell Park every year for hope.

Mary Wilson, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation Trustee, along with Mary Owen, Executive Vice President and Trustee, announced the gift today at Roswell Park with Candace Johnson, PhD, Roswell Park President and CEO, and Lee Wortham, Chair, Roswell Park Alliance Foundation.

“We are proud to announce this grant in collaboration with the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and the lifesaving work they perform every single day,” Wilson said. “Roswell Park is not only one of the world’s leading cancer research and care centers, but also an institute my husband cared deeply about. Today’s announcement is a continuation of the passion and dedication he showed to improving the quality of life for people and organizations in Western New York and across the country.”

“Many of our patients are going through one of the most difficult times of their lives as they battle this devastating disease. This incredible gift will allow us to provide a helping hand and extra support to help ease our patients’ journeys as they face diagnosis, treatment and recovery,” says Dr. Johnson, the past chair of the Ralph Wilson Medical Research Foundation. “Mr. Wilson was such an outstanding friend and supporter of Roswell Park and his compassion for our patients was evident. I feel privileged to have known him, and with this gift today, The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation will carry on his legacy to make a difference in the lives of our patients for years to come.”

Quality-of-life grants are funded by donations to Roswell Park and are awarded once per year following a competitive review process. Each year, there are not enough resources to fund each worthy project and new initiatives are not able to receive support.

This donation, which establishes the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Quality of Life Endowment, will ensure that stable funding is available for quality-of-life programs each year, will allow staff to embark on new projects and will provide the resources so that more patients have access to the programs. The donation is the first of several grants the Foundation intends to announce this fall as part of its 2015 Transitional Legacy Grant Program to a variety of recipients in Western New York, Southeast Michigan and other various awardees across the country.

Current quality-of-life programs at Roswell Park provide financial assistance for transportation and lodging, devices to help patients with disabilities they have as a result of cancer, the Pet Therapy Program, wigs and hats for patients undergoing chemotherapy, pastoral care services that offer support from five religious leaders of different faiths and the Artists in Residence Program, which brings artists to Roswell Park to work with patients.

During his lifetime, Ralph Wilson was a remarkable supporter of Roswell Park for more than a decade. He provided nearly $2 million in critically needed funding that fueled cutting-edge cancer research, and he donated an additional $1 million as a member of the Circle of Ten, to help build a new chemotherapy unit for patients in the Institute’s new Clinical Sciences Center, set to open in spring 2016.

In honor of the gift, Wortham unveiled a plaque featuring a photograph of Wilson and a young patient, Nicholas Puleri, which was taken more than 25 years ago. Puleri, who has now been in remission for more than two decades, attended today’s event and vividly remembers the encouragement he received from Wilson. Kim Bonafede, the mother of a current pediatric patient, also spoke at the event, highlighting the impact the quality-of-life programs had on her family’s cancer journey and the importance of the Foundation’s gift.

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About Roswell Park
The mission of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1898, Roswell Park is one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit www.roswellpark.org, call 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355) or email AskRoswell@Roswellpark.org. Follow Roswell Park on Facebook and Twitter.

About the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation
The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is a newly funded private foundation headquartered in Grosse Pointe Farms, MI. The Foundation was established in 2011 by Mr. Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. to eventually become the vehicle to receive a substantial amount of his Estate’s proceeds which are to be used exclusively for charitable purposes. Mr. Wilson passed away on March 25, 2014 after which the Trustees liquidated the majority of his Estate’s assets and funded the Foundation with $1.2 Billion in early 2015. It measures in the top five of Michigan based private foundations and has a 20 year lifespan. The same four individuals who served as trustees for Mr. Wilson’s Estate are designated as Life Trustees of the Foundation. An additional three trustees will be added in the near future.

Media Contact

Jessica Bagley, Sr. Communications Coordinator
716-845-1027; jessica.bagley@roswellpark.org