Published on May 04, 2012

Celebrating a 2nd $1 Million Gift to Genesis

An audible gasp and then applause rose from the large crowd of Genesis employees when CEO and President Doug Cropper announced last week that a second $1 million gift had been made to Genesis.

After all, it was only last September that an anonymous donor had made the first $1 million gift to the Genesis Cancer Care Institute. That gift, the largest ever made by a living donor to the Genesis Health Services Foundation, continues to impact cancer patients and their loved ones.

Now, just several months later, a second $1 million gift was being announced from the same donor. This time, the source of all the generosity would be revealed.

“While we’re confident our delivery of compassionate cancer care is worthy of such a contribution, it’s not every day you receive a $1 million gift,” Cropper said at the April 26 celebration. “Maybe that’s why I’m truly humbled to stand before you today to announce we have received another $1 million contribution from this remarkable donor. What makes today’s announcement even more special is the opportunity to share the name of our donor -- Mrs. JoAnn Waddell.

“Her gift will establish the Gene and JoAnn Waddell Regional Fund for Hospice and Cancer Care, serving patients and families everywhere Genesis offers these services, today and in the future.”

The announcement kicked off an employee “Celebration of Compassionate Care” to honor the Waddells.

A quiet philanthropist

Cropper described Mrs. Waddell as a quiet philanthropist, who prefers the attention be placed on programs and services for patients and their families. She has experienced the role of caregiver twice -- first with her husband, Gene, and then two years later, when her mother was terminally ill with cancer.

“She was there for her husband, Gene, during his struggle with Lou Gehrig’s disease, and the challenging days at the end of his life’s journey,” Cropper said. “Mrs. Waddell understands the needs of the caregiver and the physical and emotional exhaustion that accompany the role.”

One such caregiver is George Ramos, whose wife, LaNae, was diagnosed with Stage 2B aggressive breast cancer nearly three years ago. After a radical mastectomy and during six months of high-powered chemotherapy, her body was wracked with joint pain, nausea, fever, dehydration, loss of appetite, and fatigue. She was unable to care for herself, let alone the couple’s children, so he became both mother and father to the children and caregiver to his wife.

Ramos found support at Gilda’s Club of the Quad Cities to “cope with cancer and the ugly pain, emotions and fears that go along with it.” That’s where he and LaNae also learned of a Breast Cancer Couple’s Retreat, sponsored last winter by the Genesis Cancer Care Institute with funds from JoAnn Waddell’s first $1 million donation.

Gifts in action

“Because of the retreat, I discovered all the emotions and fears I’d kept bottled up inside me were the same emotions and fears that other caregivers had kept,” said George Ramos, a local police officer. “Because of the retreat, I discovered I could share these emotions and fears with my wife and it would be OK.”

Referring to Mrs. Waddell, he added: “How do I say ‘thank you’ to the person who so graciously allowed me the opportunity to grow into a deeper love with my wife? How do I say ‘thank you’ to the person who cares so much about others dealing with cancer that she would make this retreat and other retreats like this possible?”

Wendy Ballou sees Mrs. Waddell’s gift in action on a daily basis as a cancer nurse navigator.

Thanks to the first $1 million gift, the Genesis Cancer Care Institute offers cancer survivorship “Transitions” classes to ease patients into the recovery stages of a cancer diagnosis; a cancer caregiver course to support spouses and family members; and, wigs, prosthetics, and transportation for those in need.

“This is just a sampling of the services and the beginning of how Mrs. Waddell’s donation has impacted the life or journey of cancer patients in our community,” said Ballou, RN, BS, OCN, CCM.

“Genesis Hospice looks forward to the regional expansion of its services and to offering support services, such as bereavement programming, music therapy, respite care for family members and an ongoing list of programs and services at the hospice house and in our community.”

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