Knight Cancer Challenge kicks off Mary’s Woods speaker series

Uniting to Make a Difference in our World

 Knight Cancer Challenge kicks off Mary’s Woods speaker series

March 23, 2016

OHSUThose who had the good fortune to attend the premier of the Changing the World One Gift at Time series at Mary’s Woods had their eyes opened to the incredible achievement Oregonians were able to spearhead in the last two years. For the first time in the history of our nation, thousands banded together to raise $1,000,000,000, in less than 24 months, to alleviate one of the greatest scourges of our time─cancer.

All of this was motivated by a surprise challenge gift to the Oregon Health and Science University Foundation (OHSUF) of $500,000,000 from NIKE co-founder Phil Knight and his wife Penny. There was one small caveat in what was to be coined the Knight Cancer Challenge: it had to be completely matched within 2 years in order to receive a penny.

At the Mary’s Woods inaugural Philanthropy Speaker Series, Drew Hunsinger, Vice-President of Development for OHSUF, shared the success story behind the Knight Cancer Challenge. According to Hunsinger, it was the largest successful fundraising challenge on record. The prestigious Research arm of the Indiana University’s School of Philanthropy (IUSP) made this confirmation, but only after the effort was over. “IUSP didn’t comment during the challenge because so many challenges like this don’t succeed,” said Hunsinger.

“Apparently they weren’t aware that they were talking about Oregonians,” said Adrianna Carr, Mary’s Woods Director of Development. “The state isn’t called ‘The Land of the Empire Builders’ for nothing. Give us a challenge and we’re going to rise to the occasion. And rise we did.”

The State of Oregon committed to providing $200,000,000 in bonds and a surprise, anonymous donor came forth with a $100,000,000 gift. “The Willamette Week felt it was their duty to ‘out’ that donor,” said Carr. “And it was none other than our beloved Tough Mother, Gert Boyle.”

Instead of being angry, Boyle graciously agreed to help with the promotion of this challenge, and within 22 months, on June 25, 2015, the match was met and Dr. Brian Druker began escalating the real work─to end cancer as we know it.

When the dust settled, there were donations from every state in the Union and 59 donors had given gifts of $1,000,000 or more.  “But what is even more inspiring,” said Lisa Wiebe, Philanthropy Liaison, “is that more than 10,000 other donors had participated, many giving sacrificially to honor family members who had died of cancer, or continued to live with it.”  Of that number, Wiebe added, “over 75% were Oregonians.”

Awe-inspiring, huh?  “United we stand” reigns again.

“The question ‘Why is Mary’s Woods doing this series?’ begs to be answered,” said Carr. “I wonder if residents can see the connection of this story to our own story?  We are all incredibly blessed to be a part of this community, and with that blessing goes responsibility; responsibility to share our blessings with others, as they are never given solely for our own use.”

In the months to come, Mary’s Woods hopes to enlist members of the community in the process of continuing to find, as both Carr and Weibe point out, “our own ways of changing the world, uniting together to make a difference.”


Please join us for wine and hors d’ouevres on Tuesday May 24 at 4:00 PM with Jeff Theade, nationally known speaker on estate and trust planning, who will engage us in discussions of philanthropic success stories.  Mark your calendars for July 12 for Part III of our series with Stuart B. Allen, Trust and Market specialist who will educate us on the latest legislation and changes that can significantly effect our future.