Meet the Family Touching off a Chain Reaction of Giving in Cleveland

Meet Chuck and Char Fowler of Mayfield Heights, Ohio. Their wealth comes from Fairmount Minerals, a company that provides industrial sand but also has interests in fracking, and their foundation’s assets total over $48 million. They give to a variety of organizations in and around Cleveland: a horse farm here, a drug-free action alliance there, a little bit of arts, a little bit of community support there. But by far, their most generous and sizable gifts over the years have been in the realm of health. Case in point: the $6.7 gift they just made to Cast Western Reserve University and University Hospitals, to provide additional support for a center for adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancers.

And as with other major philanthropists, it’s personal. The Fowlers lost their 14-year-old daughter Angie to cancer in 1983, and, even as they’ve established and grown their foundation (which started in 2003) they’ve managed to set aside larger sums to devote to fighting pediatric and adolescent cancers every couple of years. In 2007, they gave $1 million to UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital to endow the nation’s first-ever chair in AYA cancer. Four years later, the Fowlers inspired their daughters and sons-in-law to pitch in, making a combined $17 million gift to establish the Angie Fowler Adolescent & Young Adult Cancer Institute at University Hospitals.

Now they’re moving forward with another sizeable gift to the Institute. This time, the gift is designed to complete the Institute’s seventh-floor inpatient area—and, as in the past, their generosity seems to be catching. An anonymous donor has already stepped forward with an additional $5 million for the cause, and the Fowler’s latest gift is expected to inspire another $5 million in matching gifts.

Additional funding received by the Institute will be used to accelerate the search for tumor-stopping drugs for treating AYA cancers, a search that’s dogged by the low rates of clinical trial participation, and by the rapidly changing nature of the adolescent body. Funding will also be used to find ways to reduce the likelihood of recurrent cancers, and to apply MRI technology to treating AYA brain cancer.

"These gifts will amplify UH and CWRU as national leaders in treating and curing adolescent and young adult cancers," says Thomas F. Zenty III, chief executive officer of University Hospitals. "This extraordinary philanthropic support for both research and clinical care promises to significantly advance treatments for our young cancer patients and AYA patients around the world."