The first publicly announced grant from the foundation created by the late Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., longtime owner of the NFL's Buffalo Bills franchise, will support compassionate care programs that address the emotional, spiritual, and social needs of Roswell Park's patients and their families. Among other things, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Quality of Life Endowment will ensure stable funding for programs that provide financial assistance for transportation and lodging, devices to help patients with disabilities resulting from cancer, pet therapy, wigs and hats for patients undergoing chemotherapy, pastoral care services, and an Artists in Residence Program. The funds also will enable the institute to expand access to more patients and offer new quality-of-life programs.
The grant is part of $60 million in funding the foundation plans to distribute through its 2015 Transitional Legacy Grant Program, which will focus on five causes that resonated with Wilson — healthy lifestyles; early childhood and youth development; education, training, and success for young adults and working-class families; education, training, and support for caregivers; and community development, regional economic growth, and nonprofit sector productivity. During his lifetime, Wilson donated nearly $2 million to Roswell Park for cutting-edge cancer research and an additional $1 million to help build a chemotherapy unit in the institute's new Clinical Sciences Center. The foundation has said it plans to introduce regular grant cycles in 2016.
"We are proud to announce this grant in collaboration with the Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the lifesaving work they perform every single day," said Mary Wilson, Wilson's widow and a foundation trustee. "Roswell Park is not only one of the world's leading cancer research and care centers, but also an institute my husband cared deeply about. Today's announcement is a continuation of the passion and dedication he showed to improving the quality of life for people and organizations in western New York and across the country."