Parkite Joe Cronley is spearheading a $50,000 fundraising drive to have a patient room at the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City named the "Park City Community Room."
It is called the "Park City Thank You Fund" and it will start with a "launch happy hour" at the Boneyard Saloon & Kitchen on Thursday, May 1.
Cronley, who moved to Park City from Michigan in 1999, said he's never done anything like it.
"What started it is, five years ago, I went through chemo and radiation to combat non-Hodgkin's lymphoma that I was diagnosed with," Cronley told The Park Record. "I was treated down at the Huntsman Cancer Institute and five years is a big milestone for cancer survivors. It's definitely not 100 percent guaranteed that it would ever come back but, you know, it's a big milestone.
"I hit that recently and just kind of felt compelled to do something to acknowledge the great work that Huntsman Cancer Institute does for residents of Park City and Summit County."
Thursday's launch at the Boneyard will feature cocktails, appetizers and a short presentation or two giving details about the fund.
Cronley described it as "a community event to support people that are cancer survivors, people that are fighting cancer right now, people that have lost friends and family due to cancer. Just a big kickoff event to let people know about what we're doing and how they can help."
All the money raised for the Park City Thank You Fund will go toward cancer research. The fundraising model is based on another Park City group's efforts.
"We're kind of running it like the Women's Giving Fund," Cronley said.
While the Women's Giving Fund asks 1,000 people to give $1,000 each to create a $1 million endowment fund for Summit County's women and children, the Park City Thank You Fund has more modest goals. It seeks 130 different donors in varying financial tiers. There are 20 $1,000 slots, 40 $500 slots, 20 $250 slots and 50 $100 slots, which would total $50,000.
"I think that the best campaigns for fundraising really rise out of just a real personal interest, and having it come from a community member is so powerful," said Lori Kun, director of development for the Huntsman Cancer Foundation.
Kun is a fellow Park City resident who is coordinating the fundraiser with Cronley.
"We've worked with him on the rollout, but he's the one that's really getting in front of people and garnering support and just educating people about the need," she said."
"We estimate on average about 114 people annually will be diagnosed with cancer [in Summit County]," Kun said, citing statistics provided by the American Cancer Society.
She said Huntsman Cancer Institute "doesn't necessarily feel local until people come and visit it or are a patient themselves and realize that they don't have to go, you know, to L.A. or back to the East Coast, that they can get world-class care just down the hill."
The Huntsman Cancer Institute had 100 private patient rooms available to be named. The one reserved for the Park City Thank You Fund is the last one available.
"I really feel like there are so many people in Park City that support Huntsman Cancer Institute and we just want to kind of put a face on it in terms of naming a space in Park City's honor," Kun said. "We're just thrilled with the support and we're so grateful for Joe and for all the patients that are stepping forward and are sharing their stories and just helping advocate for funding for cancer research, which is really critical."
"It's not something that I have done before," Cronley said. "And it's not something that I intended to do, but I just kind of felt compelled to do it and the intention is to be a one-time thing and hopefully we'll get it all done and get that in there and everyone moves on with their lives and feels good about contributing to a great cause."
Park City Thank You Fund will start its $50,000 fundraising drive on Thursday, May 1, from 5-7 p.m. at the Boneyard Saloon & Kitchen, 1251 Kearns Blvd. in Park City. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.parkcitythankyoufund.org.