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St. Luke's Mountain States Tumor Institute Receives $325,000 for Cancer Research

John Jackson (left), a board member of the Danny Thompson Memorial Golf tournament presents a $325,000 check to Dr. David Pate St. Luke's Health System CEO and Dr. Thomas Beck, St. Luke’s MSTI medical director. The funding will go toward cancer research at St. Luke's.
By Ken Dey, News and Community
March 3, 2011

BOISE, Idaho – St. Luke’s Mountain State’s Tumor Institute (MSTI) received a $325,000 donation from the Danny Thompson Memorial Golf Tournament Friday, March 4.

The funding will go toward furthering cancer research at St. Luke’s MSTI.

Representatives from the tournament presented a check to MSTI representatives during the St. Luke’s Health System Leadership Summit.

The latest donation marks more than $5 million in funding that the tournament has provided to St. Luke’s MSTI since the tournament’s inception in 1977.  Proceeds from the tournament are split equally between St. Luke’s MSTI and the University of Minnesota Cancer Research Center in Minneapolis.

The golf tournament draws celebrities and dignitaries each year to the Sun Valley Resort and Elkhorn Golf Club to remember Thompson,  former Minnesota Twins shortstop and All-American player, who died from Leukemia in 1976, 10 weeks after playing his final game.

“The support from the tournament offer patients from throughout our region the opportunity to participate in the trials that provide potentially life saving, cutting-edge, cancer treatments,” said Dr. Thomas Beck, St. Luke’s MSTI medical director.

Support from the tournament, played a critical role last year’s designation of St. Luke’s MSTI as a National Cancer Institute Community Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute (NCI).  St. Luke’s MSTI is one of only 30 cancer centers nationwide to be part of the NCI Community Cancer Centers Program.

Cancer centers are chosen for the program based on the quality and depth of clinical research trials made available to patients.  Funding from the Danny Thompson tournament has allowed St. Luke’s MSTI to enroll patient into clinical trials regardless of their ability to pay.

St. Luke’s MSTI enrolls twice as many patients in clinical trials than the national average. There are currently patients enrolled in more than 150 clinical trials at St. Luke’s. The most common cancer being treated at St. Luke’s MSTI is breast cancer.

“We have an enviable record in putting adults and children on clinical trials and keeping exquisite data. This work has been partially sponsored by the Danny Thompson tournament,” Beck said.

St. Luke’s MSTI is one of the largest community cancer centers in the Northwest seeing more than 3,000 new cancer patients every year.

The results of cancer research have greatly improved survival rates for cancer at St. Luke’s. Today, for example, 95 percent of patients survive breast cancer compared with 74 percent in 1983.

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About Danny Thompson

Danny Thompson, an All-American baseball player with Oklahoma State, started his major league career with the Minnesota Twins in 1970. His love for baseball and desire to not give up kept him playing the game even after he was diagnosed with leukemia in 1974. During the 1975 season he led American League shortstops in batting average and played well enough that he had hopes of making the All-Star team. In 1976 he was traded to the Texas Rangers. He played his final game in October of that year and died 10 weeks later on Dec. 10.

About The Danny Thompson Memorial Golf Tournament

The inspiration for the golf tournament came for former teammate and Hall of Fame baseball player Harmon Killebrew, who retired from baseball in 1975 and former Idaho Congressman Ralph Harding. After retiring, Killebrew moved to Idaho and went into business with Harding.  Killebrew wanted to do something to remember Thompson and Harding suggested a golf tournament. The first tournament was held in 1977 and attracted celebrities and dignitaries including former President Gerald Ford and baseball legend Mickey Mantle.

About St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute

Founded in 1969, St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute (MSTI) has treated nearly 60,000 patients and has become one of the Northwest’s most respected cancer care centers providing the region’s most advanced cancer care therapies with the added benefit of allowing most patients to remain close to home. To find out more about St. Luke’s MSTI visit www.stlukesonline.org

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About The Author

Ken Dey served as Public Relations Coordinator at St. Luke's from 2008-2014.