June 15, 2005 – The most ambitious fundraising project in the history of Rotary II culminated today in a $200,000 donation to the Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Institute.
Fitzgerald Rowe, Rotary II president, presented a check to Rodney E. Miller Sr., CEO of Schneider Regional Medical Center, at the club's monthly luncheon Wednesday at Marriott Frenchman's Reef. The actual check presented was for $174,500, as the organization had donated $25,500 to the cancer institute earlier this year.
"This fundraising effort for the Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Institute (CKCI) got started by us recognizing that cancer has touched our club," said Elliot Mac Davis, an eight-year cancer survivor and past president of Rotary II.
The driving force behind the charitable project, Davis directed and produced a nine-minute video that details his own ordeal battling cancer. The video was instrumental in helping Rotary II raise much of the $200,000 (See "Cancer Institute Would Give Victims Gift of Time".)
"So many of our elder Rotarians have passed because cancer ended their lives," Davis said, who himself was given 18 months to live when he was diagnosed with kidney cancer three years ago.
"I've lasted twice as long as that, and I think I will be around for awhile longer," said Davis, who then received an enthusiastic ovation from his fellow Rotarians.
Davis credited his wife, Debbie, for motivating and encouraging him to raise funds for the cancer institute, under construction next to the Schneider Hospital.
"She has been my voice when I had none; she has been my eyes when I couldn't see the road ahead," Davis said.
And that road ahead is indeed brighter for future cancer patients in the Virgin Islands, according to Miller, who gave Rotarians a brief update on the progress of the 24,000-square-foot facility.
"We hope to see our first [cancer] patient there in the month of August," Miller said, adding that the facility will be "a true world-class comprehensive cancer care treatment center for all residents of the Eastern Caribbean and visiting Americans."
"This cancer institute won't be a success because of me, any particular doctor or any particular staff member, but because of this community and the love they have for their fellow men and women," Miller said. "Virgin Islanders are tired of their loved ones dying too soon, too fast, and not having access to the best quality health care available."
Miller said most of the core staff for the cancer institute has already been hired, and some are returning to their home in the Caribbean. Renee Adams, CKCI's administrative director, grew up in Antigua, and Dr. Shirnett Williamson, a CKCI radiation oncologist, is from Jamaica.
Schneider Regional Medical Center has raised about $2.7 million on its own the for the first regional cancer center in the Eastern Caribbean. The V.I. Legislature allocated $5.8 million to the project from the territory's tobacco settlement proceeds.
The Rotary Club of St. Thomas also donated $100,000 last February for a healing garden at the cancer institute.
For more information on the Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Institute, log on to www.ckci.org.
Editor's note: Michael Burton is the public relations director for the Schneider Regional Medical Center.
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