Todd Butson is cursed. “Anytime someone asks for a volunteer or help, I have to step up to the job. I feel like everyone is looking to me to take care of it,” he says. It's a ”curse“ he hopes to instill in his own children.
Considering the family history, there's a good chance they've already inherited their father's philanthropic zeal. Butson is president of the Helen B. Murray Oncology Foundation, which was headed by his mother for about 22 years. The foundation is named for his great grandmother who created the group through a fund left behind in her will. Helen, Butson's great grandmother, was diagnosed with breast cancer in the early 1980s. “She was struck by how cancer is agnostic to a person's situation,” he says. That includes their ability to pay for treatment. Butson took over the foundation three years ago when his mother suddenly passed away, but has been a vital part of the operation for the last nine years.
The foundation provides financial support for oncology patients struggling to meet the financial obligations the disease creates. Since its inception, the foundation has granted about $500,000 to 300 cancer patients to help pay their medical bills — the money is matched by local oncology doctors. The group gets between a dozen to twenty applications each year — mostly from patients who've been referred by a local group of oncology doctors in the U.S. The money is sent directly to patients' oncology doctors in the form of a grant. The doctor writes off that portion of the patient's bill while matching it at the same time. “People will call and say, ‘You don't know how much that money helped my family,’” Butson says.
Butson is in the middle of a capital campaign. The majority of contributions to the foundation come from family members, friends and donations that have been collected in memoriam of the foundation's recipients who have passed away. Over the next two years, Butson plans to raise $750,000 to help a growing number of applicants. “My inspiration is my mother. I Inherited her mentality: If it's not you, then who?,” Butson says.
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