LAWRENCE — A $5 million gift commitment from the Kansas Masons will provide funds for outreach, professional education, staff development and membership support for the Midwest Cancer Alliance, a network of hospitals, cancer centers and research facilities. The gift will permanently endow the MCA.
In recognition of the gift, Midwest Cancer Alliance, the outreach division of The University of Kansas Cancer Center, will change its name to the Masonic Cancer Alliance.
In addition to the $5 million gift commitment, the Kansas Masonic Foundation has donated more than $25 million over the years in support of KU Cancer Center, a National Cancer Institute-designated center.
The endowment will expand education and research opportunities among the Alliance of cancer research, care and support professionals working to reduce the impact of cancer in the Heartland.
The commitment will also assist in the KU Cancer Center’s pursuit of the National Cancer Institute’s prestigious Comprehensive Cancer Center designation. The KU Cancer Center currently is an NCI-designated Cancer Center and seeks to take that designation to the next level. Comprehensive NCI designation is the highest recognition for an academic cancer center, opening doors to expanded research funding and related economic benefits and jobs, and bringing the most advanced cancer care to patients.
Out of 5,000 cancer centers in the country, just 69 are NCI-designated and of those, only 45 have achieved comprehensive designation.
“The Kansas Masons have stepped up, once again, to support the advances in cancer research and education that are critical components of our quest for Comprehensive Cancer Center designation with NCI,” said Roy Jensen, KU Cancer Center director and CEO of MCA.
Michael Tavares, president of the Kansas Masonic Foundation, addressed the center’s efforts to attain the comprehensive designation.
“For over 40 years the Kansas Masons have supported the efforts of the KU Cancer Center. We are excited to continue this partnership and to stand beside the center as it works to become a comprehensive cancer center,” Tavares said.
The MCA celebrated the announcement at its annual meeting April 1 in Overland Park, where member professionals from across the region gathered to network and share the latest information on oncology research and treatment.
“The endowment is great news for our members,” said MCA Executive Director Hope Krebill. “Thanks to the support of the Kansas Masons, members will have access to even more clinical trial and continuing education resources, programs and services.”
MCA links member hospitals, medical professionals and their patients with KU Cancer Center research and services with so that the latest cancer studies and treatments can be accessed close to home. It has grown to 21 member locations throughout Kansas and western Missouri.
The gift counts toward Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas, the university’s comprehensive fundraising campaign. Far Above seeks support to educate future leaders, advance medicine, accelerate discovery and drive economic growth to seize the opportunities of the future.
The campaign is managed by KU Endowment, the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.
Photo: Roy Jensen, KU Cancer Center director and CEO of MCA, and Robert A. Shively, executive director of the Kansas Masonic Foundation