To help spur the creation of new cancer treatments and hasten a cure for the disease, a Sierra Madre couple has given the USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center a gift worth $3 million for the creation of two new endowed chairs in cancer research.
Businessman and entrepreneur Walter Richter and his wife, Verna, said they made their gift of cash and real estate to aid the fight against a disease that afflicts millions of families – including their own.
“Cancer has hit our family pretty hard so the one thing we really wanted to do was help promote research,” Verna Richter said.
“My sister died at 32 and left four small children. It was devastating to see those four little kids lose their mother. That was our first really bad experience with cancer,” she said, adding that several other members of their extended family have also battled different forms of the disease.
Richter said she had also seen the suffering cancer inflicts on other families when she volunteered for the American Cancer Society, driving patients to their hospital appointments.
“I used to drive children to Childrens Hospital and that was rewarding, but simply heartbreaking,” she said.
She said they chose to donate to USC because family members include former patients and university graduates. More importantly, they felt that in funding research at the Norris, they could do the most good.
“I’d just love to see it help. The best thing that could happen is that it could help find a cure,” she said.
John Baker, USC/Norris director of major gifts, says the Richter’s gift will create two new endowed chairs – one in prevention research and the other in basic research.
“Walter and Verna Richter’s generous gift is important in our advancement of cancer research. Endowed chairs are a high priority for the USC/Norris, because they help sustain our excellence in research and ensure the future of cancer investigation. The Richter’s commitment and confidence is a testimony to the progress we have made at the USC/Norris and to our shared goal of making cancer a disease of the past,” said Peter A. Jones, director of the USC/Norris Cancer Center.