Denny Sanford receives Pontifical award

July 24, 2018

Denny Sanford is receiving the 2018 Pontifical Key Philanthropy Award from the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture and the Cura Foundation.

Delegates from Rome are in Sioux Falls to award Sanford and celebrate his philanthropy and vision toward solving some of the most urgent health care challenges, Sanford Health said in a statement.

“Mr. Sanford’s generosity and commitment is a sign of profound empathy and commitment towards those in need,” said Monsignor Trafny, head of THE science and faith department of the Pontifical Council for Culture of the Vatican. “In that sense with his contributions, he fulfills Pope Francis’ idea that for all our limitations, gestures of generosity, solidarity and care cannot but well up within us since we were made for love.”

Sanford’s first major donation was a $16 million lead gift to the Sioux Valley Hospitals and Health System, now known as Sanford Health, to build what remains South Dakota’s only stand-alone children’s hospital. In 2007, he made a $400 million gift — the largest known gift to an American health care organization — to launch a collection of bold initiatives focused on ending type 1 diabetes, accelerating genomic medicine, establishing children’s clinics around the world and more.

“The generous gifts from Mr. Sanford set a standard on health care philanthropy, and then he raised the bar,” said Kelby Krabbenhoft, president and CEO of Sanford Health. “The advances in health care that are a direct result of Denny’s generosity can be felt here in Sioux Falls, across the region and even around the world.”

The award comes as Sanford Health officially cuts the ribbon for the Sanford Foundation House, which honors the philanthropist’s legacy.

Inside Sanford’s new ‘front door,’ health system honors philanthropy, breakthroughs

For Sanford, a self-made billionaire who rose from modest beginnings in St. Paul, health care and children’s causes strike a personal note. He has said he was profoundly affected by the tragedies of losing his mother to breast cancer when he was 4 years old and later losing his father to heart disease.

Sanford is also a Giving Pledge signatory who plans to give away his fortune in his lifetime. To date, Sanford has invested nearly $1 billion of his personal wealth in patient care, health care research and educational initiatives.

“Mr. Sanford is an extraordinary individual whose generosity, vision and philanthropy embodies humanitarianism,” said Dr. Robin Smith, president of the Cura Foundation.  “He is a role model in his resounding commitment to improving the human condition, and we are honored to give him this award.”

Sanford Health received a Pontifical award for innovation in 2016 from the same organization. The health system has presented its research at two Vatican conferences.

Denny Sanford receives Pontifical award

Denny Sanford is receiving the 2018 Pontifical Key Philanthropy Award by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture and the Cura Foundation.

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