HEI Patients & Physicians Help Establish Extended-Stay Lodge for Cancer Patients

At the ACS Harrah's Hope Lodge ribbon-cutting ceremony: (left to right, front row) Whitney Weeks, Jacquelyn Buchanan, Dr. Matthew W. Wilson, Susan Clark, Judy Edge, and Mark Clark; (left to right, back row) Billy Powell and Michael Stinson.

In July 2007, UT Hamilton Eye Institute patient Susan Clark read a story about plans for an American Cancer Society Harrah's Hope Lodge (ACSHHL) in the Commercial Appeal. The facility would provide housing for adult patients traveling to Memphis for cancer treatment. The project had already received major gifts from Harrah's Entertainment, the UT Health Science Center, the Assisi Foundation of Memphis, and the Plough Foundation, but more funds were still needed. Ms. Clark's battle with metastatic disease from malignant melanoma had made her aware of the need for extended-stay facilities for cancer patients receiving treatments away from home. She brought the project to the attention of Matthew M. Wilson, MD, FACS, UTHSC professor of Ophthalmology and St. Jude Chair of Pediatric Oncology, who began working with her to devise a fundraising strategy.

Partnering with Terrapin Racing Triathlon Team (TRTT) in Memphis, Ms. Clark and Dr. Wilson raised funds and increased awareness about the project through the Janus Charity Challengeexternal link (JCC) as part of the 2008 Ironman Lake Placid event. Major contributions to the JCC included Dr. Ralph S. and Mrs. Barbara H. Hamilton, who contributed $100,000; and grateful HEI cancer patient Billy Powell, a FedEx pilot, who secured a $100,000 gift from FedEx with the aid of Judy Edge, FedEx VP of Human Resources. Dr. Wilson, Ms. Clark, and the TRTT also canvassed the community, collectively securing an additional $120,000 in gifts. Subsequently, Dr. Wilson was awarded the ACSHHL Distinguished Service Award, a patient suite was named in Ms. Clark's honor, and the fitness room at the facility was named for Terrapin Racing in honor of Dr. Wilson.

The ACSHHL grand opening ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at 718 Union Avenue in Memphis on Thursday, November 18, 2010 at 2:00 P.M. For more information about the facility, visit the ACS Harrah's Hope Lodge websiteexternal link or Facebook page,external link or call 1-800-227-2345.