Susan P. Wheatlake Advisory Board disbands after raising more than $1 million for cancer-patient care

REED CITY — After 10 years, $1 million raised and countless lives impacted, the Susan P. Wheatlake Advisory Board is disbanding after deciding it’s mission has been accomplished.

Seeking to help individuals and families facing the difficulties of a cancer diagnosis head on, Susan P. Wheatlake and her family established an endowment fund creating a service to distribute information and promote wellness resources for cancer patients.

The Susan P. Wheatlake Advisory Board was established in 2005 advance the investment and distribution of funds from the endowment to make a lasting impact on cancer-patient care in West Central Michigan.

Fast forward to 2015, and members of the board met for the final time on Feb. 23, feeling their mission has been accomplished.

“The group started as an advisory committee to the endowment, and then it decided to raise funds to increase the amount in the Wheatlake fund,” board member Tom Hogenson said. “The group wanted to provide meaningful assistance to people facing a cancer diagnosis and establish a center at which people can receive care.”

As the board oversaw the growth of the endowment’s balance – just over $1 million in 2015 – the landscape of healthcare in the area changed. The Susan P. Wheatlake Wellness and Resource Center opened on the campus of the Big Rapids hospital in 2008.

In 2014, the Wellness and Resource Center closed and the assets and materials supplied by the endowment were transferred to the Susan P. Wheatlake Regional Cancer Center in Reed City.

“Once we had the merger, we were able to incorporate and combine all the cancer resources in the area at the cancer center in Reed City,” Hogenson said. “It gathers all the resources in one accessible location. Patients are directed to the regional cancer center because it is renowned for its care and its resources.”

With the establishment of the cancer center, the group felt the endowment had completed its purpose of creating a center to provide quality cancer-patient care.

“Because we raised the funds necessary to establish the center, the group felt the mission has been accomplished,” Hogenson said. “I think everybody involved felt good about their accomplishments. This was a really active group.”