Cancer center receives $25 million donation from late CEO’s family
Gift is the largest in is in the history of the Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation.
Business Observer Staff
| 9:54 a.m. October 1, 2020
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SARASOTA — The family foundation of Brian Jellison, who helped build east Manatee County-based Roper Technologies into a $5.37 billon software conglomerate, has donated $25 million to go toward the Sarasota Memorial Hospital Cancer Institute.
The donation, from the Brian and Sheila Jellison Family Foundation, is the largest donation in the history of the Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation, according to a statement. In recognition of the gift, the Cancer Institute will now be known as the Brian D. Jellison Cancer Institute. That includes the eight-story oncology tower now rising on the hospital’s main campus, just south of downtown Sarasota, scheduled to open in the fall 2021. An outpatient radiation oncology center SMH recently opened on its University Parkway campus, and all future buildings and services part of the Cancer Institute, also will bear the Jellison name, the release adds.
The gift also moves the foundation closer to its overall $75 million goal. “We are so grateful to the Jellison family for their vision and generosity,” Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation President Mason Ayres says in the release. “This transformational gift means so much to everyone who has faced cancer either personally or with a loved one.”
The Jellison Family Foundation was created by Sarasota residents Brian and Sheila Jellison with their three daughters, Christie Jellison Mucha, Hilary Jellison Simonds and Michelle Jellison, in 2018. The foundation is focused on three areas: helping people facing the challenges of cancer, promoting financial literacy and higher education and supporting local communities of special importance to their family.
Brian Jellison, the family patriarch, died from cancer in 2018. He had been married to Sheila Jellison for 52 years, and, according to the statement, was a “role model for his daughters and their families, including eight grandchildren.” He led Lakewood Ranch-based Roper for 17 years, where, among other accomplishments, he transformed its business model and increased its market capitalization from $1.5 billion to more than $30 billion. Institutional Investor named Jellison the Best CEO in the Electrical Equipment and Multi-Industry sector in 2018, and Harvard Business Review named him one of the Best Performing CEOs in the World.
One of SMH’s mission with the cancer institute, following a trend in cancer care nationwide, is to build state-of-the-art facilities that allow local residents access to top oncology services without having to travel to a major city. That was important to the Jellison family in their donation decision.
“Everyone should be able to get the best cancer care without having to leave home … we feel so lucky to be able to help SMH bring that care home to Sarasota,” says Sheila Jellison, president of the family foundation, in the statement. Her three daughters are directors.
“We wanted to do something meaningful and impactful that really spoke to us,” adds Hilary Jellison Simonds in the release. “We know first-hand from living through our father’s treatment that dealing with cancer can be a hard, lonely road for patients and caregivers. With this gift, we want to let other families know that they are not alone.”
Sarasota Memorial CEO David Verinder says the Jellison Family Foundation’s gift also memorializes the most important aspect of a cancer patient’s journey – Hope. “With this donation, they not only honor a beloved husband, father and grandfather, they also give the tremendous gift of hope and courage to people fighting cancer in our community,” Verinder says in the statement.
Sarasota oncologist Dr. Richard Brown, who guided Brian Jellison’s cancer care in Sarasota and is the medical director of the Jellison Cancer Institute, says the new name reflects Sarasota Memorial’s patient-centered approach.
“Cancer treatment may involve chemotherapy, radiation or surgery, but cancer care is much more than that,” says Brown in the statement. “It’s the people and programs supporting and guiding patients through the significant challenges of their cancer experience. The gift from the Jellison Family Foundation will help us ensure local patients receive the compassionate, comprehensive care they deserve.”