The endowment from Charles and Margaret Juravinski, called the Juravinski Research Centre, will be a joint partnership between McMaster University, Hamilton Health Sciences Centre and St. Josephs Healthcare Hamilton. When it is up and running, the endowment fund will give $5-million every year indefinitely to fund research projects.
Giving is like a drug: Hamilton couple pledge bulk of their estate to create $100-million health research endowment
We think its a way of giving back. We think its the right thing to do, Mr. Juravinski said in an interview.
The endowment is one of the largest legacy gifts in Canadian history. Paul OByrne, dean and vice-president of the faculty of health sciences at McMaster, said the gift will help transform how health research is conducted and has the potential to lead to important clinical developments. Theres no question, it will be a game changer, Dr. OByrne said.
Tom Stewart, chief executive officer of St. Josephs Healthcare, said the funds will help Hamilton continue to grow as a hub for health research and innovation. This will create energy in Hamilton that will start to catapult it further forward, he said. It will also act as a magnet for retaining and recruiting the brightest in the world.
The Juravinskis, who have lived in Hamilton for most of their lives, have previously donated more than $50-million to several organizations in the city, including the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre at Hamilton Health Sciences.
What makes the new gift different is that it wont fund a physical structure but instead will be focused on advancing research.
Mr. Juravinski said the couple is particularly interested in research projects focused on the staples, such as the heart, lungs and brain. But, they are placing no restrictions on research parameters; he said he could even see some money going toward cannabis research. So little is known about cannabis.
Born in Saskatchewan in 1929 as the world was coping with the massive stock-market crash that would lead to the Great Depression, Mr. Juravinski moved to Hamilton as a child, where his future wife lived. Both were raised impoverished and eventually made their fortune as owners of Flamboro Downs, a racetrack.
In an open letter to the residents of Hamilton, the couple wrote about the humiliation and hardship our parents endured trying to raise their families, at times without any apparent resources at all. Their success and wealth are things their parents would never have dreamed possible.
Mr. Juravinski said the couple was inspired to start giving after a friend donated a large sum to McMaster. It requires courage to give money away, Mr. Juravinski said, but they quickly realized the incredible feeling that comes from helping others.
Simply put, nothing feels better than to help others feel better, the couple wrote in the open letter.
An exterior photo of The Margaret and Charles Juravinski Centre for Integrated Healthcare. Photo provided by St. Josephs Healthcare Hamilton.
A Hamilton philanthropist couple plans to create a $100-million endowment fund to support health research at two hospitals and a university in the city.
Charles and Margaret Juravinski say their gift, in the form of an investment, will mean McMaster University, Hamilton Health Sciences and St. Josephs Healthcare Hamilton collectively receive up to $5 million per year in perpetuity after their deaths.
The couple, aged 89 and 87, say the greatest pleasure in life and the most powerful force for good in the world is sharing.
The institutions say the money will create the Juravinski Research Centre to further examine cancer, mental health, lung and respiratory care, and diseases of aging.
The couple, who have lived in Hamilton for decades, have donated more than $50 million throughout their lives to various organizations in the city.
"We knew that no matter ones age or station in life, that everyone who lacks good health is equally vulnerable," the Juravinskis said in an open letter. "There is no worry that compares to being sick or disabled and not knowing how things will turn out."
The pair said they figured if they could help alleviate that concern for some families through their philanthropy, they would be happy.
"To be very candid, we actually underestimated how good it would feel to help build a cancer centre or to rebuild a hospital, to create new and badly needed hospice beds and to help with other aspects of health care where there was a need," they wrote.
"We have learned that sharing our resources is in itself like a drug — one with a euphoric and healing effect. Simply put, nothing feels better than to help others feel better."
The couple both knew poverty through their early lives as they were born during the Great Depression. They have been together for seven decades and made their money through several businesses, most notably in the horse-racing world where they built Flamboro Downs in the Hamilton area before selling it in 2002.
"Today, we are old. We love our lives, but as in all matters, we are also pragmatic. We know we are much closer to the end than to the beginning, and we are ready," they wrote. "We want to be sure our remaining resources are able to do as much good for as many people for as long as they can."