by Natalie Gutierrez and Will SansomSuspended three stories high above an enthusiastic crowd, President Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., and Bill Greehey, chairman of NuStar Energy L.P., reached for the thin rope dangling in the cool breeze. With a swift tug, the new name of the building was unveiled – Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute. Cheers erupted as balloons in every color of the rainbow were released and drifted into the morning sky. An explosion of confetti showered the crowd as lively music played in the background.
April 17, 2007 was a historic day at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio as faculty, staff, students and community leaders honored Bill Greehey and his family foundation for their $25 million gift to the Health Science Center. The celebration symbolized the unparalleled boost the Greeheys’ gift is giving cancer research in San Antonio.
In recognition of the contribution, President Cigarroa officially changed the names of the North Campus and the Children’s Cancer Research Institute to the Greehey Academic and Research Campus and the Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute, respectively.
Largest single donation
The $25 million donation is the single largest private gift ever received by the Health Science Center and is one of the single largest cash contributions in the history of The University of Texas System and the city of San Antonio. The gift will enable construction, survivorship, educational and research programs that will benefit children with cancer and chronic diseases, as well as their families, health professions students and fellows, physicians and bench scientists. Calling it a "transformational gift," Health Science Center officials said that the contribution will have a positive impact on San Antonio, the state and the world.
"The Greehey Academic and Research Campus and the Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute are now permanently identified with the Greehey Family, one of the greatest names in business, humanitarianism and philanthropy in our nation," President Cigarroa said. "This $25 million donation is an unprecedented and transformational gift for the health of children and families in South Texas. Having Mr. Greehey and his family on our campus today truly makes this one of the most special and meaningful days in our history."
Former chairman of Valero Energy Corporation
A tireless advocate for giving back to the community, Mr. Greehey stepped down as Valero Energy Corporation’s chairman earlier this year to focus his full attention on his many philanthropic endeavors and his role as chairman of NuStar Energy L.P. and NuStar GP Holdings, LLC.
"San Antonio is very fortunate to have a world-class research facility here in our hometown," Mr. Greehey said. "But as I always say, it wouldn’t be a great facility if it weren’t for all of the great people. This facility has attracted some of the top researchers in the nation and has a great leader in Dr. Cigarroa.
Most important gift in the Health Science Center’s history
"This contribution is the most important gift that The University of Texas Health Science Center has ever received," said Glenn Biggs, one of the founders of the Health Science Center’s Development Board. "The Health Science Center now has a strong foundation on which to build, and has the opportunity to leverage this gift to attain other major contributions. I have no doubt it is just the start of many great things to come for the university and for San Antonio.
"Through his many contributions to our community, Bill Greehey has truly made our city a better place to live, work and visit. And, because his gift to the Health Science Center will certainly lead to breakthrough discoveries, his good works will extend far beyond the borders of our city," he said.
Joan and Chris Edelen of San Antonio were among the hundreds present to thank the Greehey Family. The Edelens have two sons, Christopher, 13, and Daniel, 10. Three years ago, Daniel was diagnosed with leukemia. Since that time, he has spent many days warming the hearts of the nurses, residents, doctors and other patients at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital, the Academic Children’s Hospital for the Health Science Center.
President Cigarroa invited Mr. Edelen to the lectern to speak about the family’s experience. Daniel was unable to attend because he was taking the TAKS test at school. "Daniel wanted to be here today to help us say thank you," Mr. Edelen said. "To the Greehey family, we say a heartfelt thank you for giving the gift of life to kids and families fighting this battle. Your gift has given us all more reason today to be more hopeful about tomorrow."
Brittany Galan, 15, who was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia as a baby, was treated at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital and has been disease free for 14 years. She and her mother attended the Greehey celebration to express their thanks.
"She always says God left her here for a reason," said her mother, Rosalia Hilario. "She was diagnosed at 6 weeks old, and they told me she had a 10 percent chance of survival. I said, ‘I’m taking you up on that 10 percent.’ And, she is here today."
Brittany is a student at Bernard Harris Middle School. Chemotherapy put her a couple of years behind in her academic career, but she has made a great comeback. Her favorite subjects are American history and English, and her dream is to become a physician. She is doing so well that she only returns for checkups annually.
Brittany Galan, 15, meets Sharon Murphy, M.D., director of the Greehey CCRI. Galan was 6 weeks old when she was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia. Successful treatment has allowed her to remain disease free for 14 years. “Quite frankly, you could say she is cured,” Dr. Murphy said.
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