Groundbreaking celebrated at Hope Lodge, Mayo Clinic Campus

Groundbreaking celebrated at Hope Lodge, Mayo Clinic Campus
American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge campaign donors, fundraising professionals and executive staff members ready for the groundbreaking on the Mayo Clinic Jacksonville Campus. With shovels in hand, the group prepped for the official throwing of the dirt on the future sight of the Hope Lodge.

With the ceremonial lift of the shovel, the American Cancer Society broke ground Oct. 23 for the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation Hope Lodge, a $19.6 million facility which will offer free lodging for patients seeking cancer treatment in the Jacksonville medical community.

Hope Lodge Campaign Chair Charlie Tomm with Kellie Ann Kelleher, Hope Lodge Campaign Director and Tim Torgerson, Nationwide Director, Leadership and Campaign Giving at American Cancer Society.

Hope Lodge Campaign Chair Charlie Tomm with Kellie Ann Kelleher, Hope Lodge Campaign Director and Tim Torgerson, Nationwide Director, Leadership and Campaign Giving at American Cancer Society.

The groundbreaking ceremony took place at the construction site, located at Mayo Clinic West Campus, and was attended by representatives from ACS, Mayo Clinic, local donors and members of the capital campaign, led by Campaign Chair Charlie Tomm and Honorary Chairpersons Carter and Cheryl Bryan.

“One of the large motivating factors for us in this campaign was learning the very large percentage of cancer sufferers who do not follow up with the proper care after being diagnosed, even if they have proper insurance. They cannot afford the lodging and other costs in seeking treatment in a distant city,” said Tomm in his welcoming remarks.

When the Jacksonville Hope Lodge opens its doors, the 31-room facility will save cancer patients and their caregivers an estimated $3 million annually in lodging expenses. Some patients spend days, weeks, even months away from home, which Bryan touched upon in his remarks.

“The history of Hope Lodge goes back about 35 years when I was serving on the [Florida] Division Board [of ACS] and I was in a budget committee meeting and looking at a line item for housing of $250,000,” said Bryan, who was told it for cancer patients who have to go out of town and were put up in the cheapest motels. “I thought this was not right, there has to be a solution.”

The solution was found when Bryan, along with Robert Davis of the Winn-Dixie Foundation, launched a campaign in 1986 to build the first lodge constructed from the ground up, in Gainesville, on the University of Florida campus. 

Mr. Gary Reedy, American Cancer Society CEO,  Mr. Richard M. Schulze, Founder of Best Buy, Dr. Gianrico Farrugia, Mayo Clinic CEO

Mr. Gary Reedy, American Cancer Society CEO,
Mr. Richard M. Schulze, Founder of Best Buy, Dr. Gianrico Farrugia, Mayo Clinic CEO

Now, many generous local philanthropists, including the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, have stepped up to the plate to put a Hope Lodge in Jacksonville. Schulze acknowledged the part played by the Foundation and other major contributors, but also gave praise to another group.

“What’s often not talked about are the 4,200 people who stood up and said ‘We want to help make a difference for people suffering from this dreaded disease,’” he said. “It’s not even just the dollar and cents, candidly, it’s the personal skin in the game from so many of these volunteers that not only feel the importance of making a contribution to make this happen today and on into perpetuity, but at the end of the day just to be volunteering as helpers in this facility, be a part of the process that goes on.”

At full occupancy, the Jacksonville Hope Lodge facility will provide nearly 12,000 room nights each year. It will include private guest suites, a library, shared living room, kitchen and dining areas, help-yourself pantry, daily access to linens, space for recreation and contemplation, and free transportation services to and from the world-renowned cancer centers within the Jacksonville medical community.


By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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