First-ever UNMC Giving Day draws 1,542 gifts from generous donors

Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, MD, said, "We are humbled by the generosity and trust our stakeholders have shown us."

Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, MD, said, "We are humbled by the generosity and trust our stakeholders have shown us."

Thirty-one hours. 1,542 donations, all for the greater good.

The first-ever UNMC Giving Day was a tremendous success, far surpassing its goal of 1,000 gifts.

The event raised $278,229 to support UNMC’s colleges, student organizations and clinical partners and institutions, including Nebraska Medicine.

UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, MD, and Nebraska Medicine CEO Jim Linder, MD, expressed gratitude to the alumni, friends and grateful patients who supported the campaign.

“At UNMC and Nebraska Medicine, we are grateful for the response to the inaugural Giving Day. As UNMC continues in its mission to transform lives, we are humbled by the generosity and trust our stakeholders have shown us,” Dr. Gold said. “These generous investments will provide support for UNMC students, educators and initiatives as we strive together to create a healthier future for the people of Nebraska and beyond. Thank you all.”

To honor UNMC’s founding in 1869, the giving day lasted for 1,869 minutes (about 31 hours) with gifts made online on the Giving Day website. Donations came in from 45 states.

Of the total raised, $66,286 was donated to support Nebraska Medicine.

“The generosity of Nebraska Medicine and UNMC supporters in Omaha and around the world is one of our greatest assets,” Dr. Linder said. “The money raised during this inaugural Giving Day will support emergency needs for our patients and families, it will provide growth and educational opportunities for our nurses and other colleagues, and it will ensure financial help is available for the next generation of health care workers. We thank everyone who made a donation.”

UNMC Giving Day — For the Greater Good featured more than 70 worthy causes, with one of those organized by Jack Henry of Omaha in honor of his mother, Linda Henry of Logan, Iowa, who was treated for pancreas cancer at the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center.

The Deconstruct Cancer Challenge, established with matching funds from Jack Henry and the owners of the company he works for, Johnson Deconstruct, supports the Pancreatic Cancer Center of Excellence at UNMC and Nebraska Medicine. The center seeks to transform the early detection, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of pancreas cancer, considered to be one of the world’s most lethal cancers.

“I feel so lucky having this state-of-the-art medical facility right next door,” Jack Henry said. “It’s such a noble effort, and it’s right here in Nebraska.”

Linda Henry, 72, of Logan, Iowa, said she’s proud of her son for organizing the fundraising effort and is grateful for the care she’s received. “It has meant the world to me. I’ve got a lot to live for.”

She recalls learning she had pancreas cancer in an emergency room in June 2021. “I thought there was no hope for anything. I didn’t think anyone got over pancreas cancer.”

Linda Henry said her pancreas cancer was detected in its early stages, and after six months of chemotherapy and Whipple surgery to remove part of her pancreas, she’s looking to the future with optimism. She treasures time with her three children and five grandchildren and has a message for other patients with pancreas cancer.

“There is hope.”

Kyle P. Meyer, PhD, dean of the UNMC College of Allied Health Professions, called the first UNMC Giving Day a huge success.

“Our mission is to transform lives and communities for a healthier future. We are overwhelmed by the sheer number of alumni and friends who have chosen to partner with us in this mission,” he said. “Their gifts will provide scholarships and other opportunities for students and continue to advance our outstanding programs and faculty.”

Another beneficiary was the Nebraska Medicine Patient and Family Experience Fund, which provides direct support to patients whose needs exceed their available resources. Last fiscal year, 2,220 meals were provided to families and caretakers, and 2,570 nights of lodging were covered by donors.

“Since before the pandemic, we have found that patients and families often encounter challenges making ends meet,” said Rachele Sledge, social work department manager at Nebraska Medicine. “Then you add in a sudden or even chronic medical issue that brings them to us, and they … are having to decide between eating and paying utilities or affording gas to get to medical appointments.”

UNMC student Natalia Santos is pursuing her doctorate in health promotion in the UNMC College of Public Health. For her research on rural food access in minority communities, Santos uses geospatial analysis and interviews with Latinos living in rural Nebraska communities to gain a better understanding of barriers to obtaining healthy food, including family income, cost and the availability of healthy food in local grocery stores.

She views her research as central to UNMC’s mission to serve Nebraska and says philanthropic support is critical.

“At UNMC, we are really focused on rural health,” Santos said. “Investing in scholarships, faculty development and research makes the university more successful.”

The Giving Day donations also count toward “Only in Nebraska: A Campaign for Our University’s Future.” Announced last fall, the campaign has a goal to raise $3 billion from 150,000 unique benefactors to support the University of Nebraska. More information is at the Only in Nebraska website.