Wheatlake Center campaign has more than half of $2.4 million goal

REED CITY — Tears form in the corners of Joan Porteous’ eyes when she thinks of the devastation cancer has brought her family. She lost her 68-year-old mother to the disease, and her father battled two forms of cancer. But for the Reed City resident and her husband, Dave, bringing hope close to home is not out of reach. Determined to help others fight the deadly disease, the Porteous family offered a donation to support the $2.4 million capital campaign for the Susan P. Wheatlake Regional Cancer Center. “It’s about saving lives and it’s about saving them here in our community,” Joan said. “It just dawned on me how much of a toll that would take on families if they had to go back and forth (to Grand Rapids for cancer treatment). Having (the facility) here is just great.” With the Porteous gift, nearly $1.4 million has been raised through the “Bringing Hope Closer To Home” campaign fundraising efforts. A thermometer logging the fundraising progress is posted on the wall at Spectrum Health Reed City Hospital. Additional thermometers will seen be posted in the Reed City community. The financial gifts will be used to add 9,000 square feet to the existing Crossroads Radiation Therapy Center, located at 4499 220th Ave. in Reed City. “This is as an enormous community benefit, an enormous community opportunity and something we can both look at now with great pride and also look at the future and have great confidence in the opportunity it’s going to provide,” Dave said. Along with updated technology, which will offer state-of-the art cancer treatment to patients across the region, the Susan P. Wheatlake Regional Cancer Center also will include a wellness center and library. The center will be a continuation of the space offered at Mecosta County Medical Center and feature a boutique, meeting space, integrative therapies, café, gifts and other services to educate and support patients on the road to recovery. In honor of the Porteous’ gift, a room at the new center will bear their name. As an honorary chair of Spectrum Health Reed City Hospital’s capital campaign committee, Dave serves part-time on the committee with six other members. “When Susan (Wheatlake) talked to me about the need to expand the center here, and the need to bring new equipment to the center, and when I saw the commitment she and her family had made for many years, the only answer for me of course was ‘Yes, what can I do to help?’” Dave said. Capital campaign co-chair Sheri Thompson said the Porteous’ passion for the community is inspiring. “The Porteous family always have been community givers. This is a natural continuation of their passion,” Thompson said. “We can’t begin to express our appreciation for all they’ve done in getting this campaign off to a good start.” As more than half of the funds have been raised in the hospital’s largest campaign in its 127-year history, Dave said the community’s support of the project has inspired him. “That really is a testament to people in the community and their generosity. It points out what is possible,” he said. He hopes many more individuals and businesses will join the effort to help the center reach the $2.7 million goal. “No matter what your financial ability is, there’s a spot for every person who wants to help out,” Dave said. “There is plenty of time for people to think about how they might want to participate.” Construction to expand the facility on the south side of the current building will begin in November. Fundraising will be ongoing as construction begins. The new facility is scheduled to open in the summer of 2013. “I don’t know one person or family that hasn’t been touched by cancer,” Dave said. “For those who suffer from cancer, they don’t have to worry about, ‘Do I have the energy? Can I make the drive the long distance to Grand Rapids for treatment? Can I afford the treatment or is a drive to Grand Rapids something that I or my family can’t afford?’ “This is an extraordinary opportunity for those who are receiving the care and also family members in the community to have what didn’t used to be possible right here.” For Joan, supporting the center is the best way to invest in a future of hope for cancer patients and their families. “Until we have a cure, all we can do is help.”
HOW TO HELP There are many opportunities for donating to the Susan P. Wheatlake Regional Cancer Center and additional facility naming opportunities as well. To donate, log on to www.spectrumhealth.org/regional-cancer-center or contact Christie Carlson, development director of the Spectrum Foundation at Reed City Hospital, at (231) 832-7184.