Taking the lead

It’s been a little more than a week since Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center kicked off its fundraising campaign for a cancer institute in Marshall. In that time, two area businesses, North Star Mutual Insurance of Cottonwood and State Bank of Taunton, have helped get things off to a strong start.

North Star Insurance of Cottonwood donated $125,000, and State Bank of Taunton donated $100,000, Avera Marshall announced Wednesday.

“We’re so pleased with the incredible response to the project,” Marty Seifert, executive director of the Avera Marshall Foundation, said in a news release. “People feel strongly about the need for cancer services in our region. The enthusiasm we’ve seen is energizing as we move forward with continued fundraising. We are so thankful for the State Bank of Taunton and North Star Insurance for taking the lead in giving.”

Representatives of both North Star Insurance and State Bank of Taunton said giving to the cancer center was a way to give back to all the people they serve in the region.

“Cancer impacts virtually every family at some point,” said North Star President and CEO Jeff Mauland. Yet, treatment options are far away from many people. “We think a cancer treatment center is needed in the area.”

Keith and Jill Anderson, members of the State Bank of Taunton board of directors, said they got involved with the fundraising campaign after being part of Avera Marshall’s advisory committee in the project’s planning stages. They supported the idea of making a donation to the capital campaign, “but we hadn’t discussed an amount,” Keith Anderson said. Not long after the official start of the campaign, the bank board agreed to donate $100,000.

“We gave with our hearts, because it was the right thing to do,” said bank president Jerry Wanken.

“Everyone knows somebody who has been touched by cancer,” Keith Anderson said. That also means there’s a personal side to supporting the cancer institute.

The project “holds a special place in each of our hearts,” Wanken said. Wanken said his wife Judy is fighting cancer, and the Andersons said their son Michael died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Avera’s capital campaign officially kicked off Feb. 4. Avera Marshall Foundation has set a fundraising goal of $5.45 million for the cancer institute, out of an estimated $12.9 million total cost. The Avera Cancer Institute will be an addition to the existing medical center in Marshall.

The campaign still has a long way to go to meet its fundraising goals, but Seifert said it was encouraging to receive two major donations. The campaign has also received donation commitments for a total of 14 areas of the cancer center offering named recognition, he said.

Mauland said the cancer institute would benefit all area families. Hopefully, he said, more people will be inspired to help support the center’s construction.

Jill Anderson agreed, emphasizing that any size donation helps.

“People can give anything. You don’t have to give thousands of dollars,” she said.

Contributions to the capital campaign can be paid over a five-year period, Seifert said. Gifts of cash, commodities, stock and property will all be accepted. Businesses and individuals wishing to donate, volunteer or find out more information on the Building Hope Capital Campaign for Avera Cancer Institute Marshall can contact Seifert at 507-537-9145.