Cancer accounts for one in every four deaths in Iowa. This year, more than 15,000 Iowans will hear "you have cancer."
A new partnership between the American Cancer Society and the Community Foundation of Johnson County and a generous gift will benefit cancer patients and their families during difficult treatments away from home.
Cancer patient Russ Gerdin's $2 million challenge grant is helping build a home-away-from home for patients and their families while under going cancer treatment. The Russ & Ann Gerdin American Cancer Society Hope Lodge will be built near Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Hawkins Drive in Iowa City.
The American Cancer Society is coordinating a statewide campaign to raise $8 million – $4 million for construction and $4 million to build an operation endowment.
The challenge grant must be met by December 2007.
Marcia Holley, ACS capital campaign director for Iowa, says there are 22 lodges in the U.S. ASC Hope Lodges must be built near a National Cancer Institute. The Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only facility in Iowa.
Holley says Gerdin's gift is a "win-win" in support building community assets for the Community Foundation of Johnson County as well as establishing an operation endowment for the lodge.
Gerdin, the CEO and president of Heartland Express, knows first-hand how difficult chemotherapy can be without being away from home and a support system. He was diagnosed with liver cancer.
Cancer patients must be referred by a physician for treatment. The lodges offer service free of charge to patients and their caregivers. Typically, patients are undergoing outpatient treatment where it is too far to drive back and forth and experience an average of stay of six to eight weeks.
The lodge, which is expected to open in 2008, will offer approximately 30 guest rooms with private bathrooms. Guests will be able to prepare and share meals in large kitchens and dining areas. Other community space includes a library, fitness, recreation space, meditation rooms and outdoor gardens.
A renewed Endow Iowa bill offers contributors an opportunity to apply (on a first-come, first-serve basis) for a possible 20 percent tax credit. The program is in effect through 2008.
Holley says, "This is a wonderful partnership. The American Cancer Society is establishing an endowment to help with on-going operational expenses and helping build community assets through the Community Foundation."