Schwan’s donates $600,000 to cancer institute

MARSHALL – The monetary gifts keep rolling in for Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center’s new cancer institute, and this time, it’s Marshall’s largest employer that is opening up the checkbook.

The Schwan Food Co., through its Corporate Giving Foundation, has committed $600,000 to Avera Cancer Institute Marshall – the largest single donation ever given to the medical center from a business or family, Avera said Tuesday.

“It’s quite humbling to receive this donation,” said Marty Seifert, executive director of the Avera Foundation. “I think it shows the true dedication to the community and the region that Schwan’s has.”

This is the fifth major contribution Avera has received for the cancer institute since launching its Building Hope Capital Campaign in February. D&G Excavating and the Brian and Kris Gruhot family contributed $75,000 for construction of the cancer institute, and Lyon-Lincoln Electric Cooperative donated $25,000. Before that, Northstar Insurance of Cottonwood and State Bank of Taunton made contributions of $125,000 and $100,000, respectively.

The front entrance to be shared by both the hospital and cancer center will bear the Schwan name and will be dedicated as the Schwan Family Gathering Area.

“We applaud the vision of Avera Marshall in taking this step to make a significant difference in the health and wellness of so many people in southwest Minnesota,” Greg Flack, president and CEO of The Schwan Food Co. and chairman of Schwan’s Corporate Giving Foundation, said in a news release. “The new cancer center will be a tremendous benefit to Marshall area residents whose lives and families are affected by these terrible illnesses.”

The Avera Marshall Foundation’s fundraising campaign is now more than 40 percent complete, Avera said. The Avera Marshall Foundation set a fundraising goal of $5.45 million for the cancer institute, out of an estimated $12.9 million total cost.

“We are very pleased at the progress we’ve made,” Seifert said. “We’re still not halfway there, even with these very large donations, but we are less than two months into it and we want to keep progressing toward our goal. It’s an enormous amount of money to be raised. When you look at it mathematically and you pencil down how many donations it takes to get to five-and-a-half million dollars, it’s a lot of work.”

The foundation set a fundraising goal of $5.45 million, out of an estimated $12.9 million total cost. Avera’s funding plan includes a $7 million (plus interest) gift from the city previously set aside after the sale of the medical center from the city of Marshall to the Avera health system. The $7 million was earmarked for oncology program development when the change of ownership occurred three years ago.

The new cancer institute will be an addition to the existing medical center in Marshall and provide services including radiation and chemotherapy.

The cancer institute’s core service area is Lyon and Lincoln counties, but Avera officials have repeatedly said that having cancer care options in the region will benefit people from Lac qui Parle County to Cottonwood County, and from Redwood County to the South Dakota border.