Denny Sanford gets 2018 Pontifical Key Philanthropy Award

SIOUX FALLS, S.D., July 24, 2018 — Denny Sanford is receiving the 2018 Pontifical Key Philanthropy Award by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture and the Cura Foundation.

Mr. Sanford’s historic generosity, vision and determination to address some of the world’s most urgent health care challenges make him uniquely deserving of this prestigious award. Delegates from the Vatican have come from Rome to give the award and celebrate Mr. Sanford’s extraordinary philanthropy and transformative impact as part of the Unite To Cure Movement.

“Mr. Sanford’s generosity and commitment is a sign of profound empathy and commitment towards those in need,” said Monsignor Tomasz Trafny, head of Science and Faith Department of the Pontifical Council for Culture of the Vatican. “In that sense with his contributions he fulfills Pope Francis’ idea that for all our limitations, gestures of generosity, solidarity and care cannot but well up within us, since we were made for love.”

Mr. Sanford’s first major donation was a $16 million lead gift to the Sioux Valley Hospitals and Health System in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, now known as Sanford Health, to build what remains South Dakota’s only stand-alone children’s hospital. In 2007, he entrusted the health system with a $400 million gift — the largest known gift to an American health care organization — to launch a collection of bold initiatives focused on ending type 1 diabetes, accelerating genomic medicine, establishing children’s clinics around the world and more.

“The generous gifts from Mr. Sanford set a standard on health care philanthropy and then he raised the bar,” said Kelby Krabbenhoft, president and CEO of Sanford Health. “The advances in health care that are a direct result of Denny’s generosity can be felt here in Sioux Falls, across the region and even around the world.”

For Mr. Sanford, a self-made billionaire who rose from modest beginnings in St. Paul, Minnesota, health care and children’s causes strike an especially personal note. He was profoundly affected by the tragedies of losing his mother to breast cancer when he was 4 years old, and later, losing his father to heart disease.

Mr. Sanford is also a Giving Pledge signatory who plans to give away his fortune in his lifetime. To that end, he champions charitable causes across the country that are close to his heart. Unquestionably, however, Mr. Sanford’s legacy remains most closely tied to Sanford Health, where his philanthropy continues to catalyze transformative expansion, innovation and discovery. To date, Mr. Sanford has invested nearly $1 billion of his personal wealth in bold patient care, research and educational initiatives aimed at improving the human condition. Today, Sanford Health is one of the largest integrated health care systems in the nation, operating 44 medical centers and nearly 300 clinics in nine states and nine countries, delivering hope and healing around the world.

“Mr. Sanford is an extraordinary individual whose generosity, vision and philanthropy embodies humanitarianism,” said Dr. Robin Smith, president of the Cura Foundation.  “He is a role model in his resounding commitment to improving the human condition, and we are honored to give him this award.”

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