I grew up in Idaho with limited exposure to the Hutch ― all I really knew was that it was a place where Grandpa Hutch tried to find ways to help people get better. When I moved to Seattle in 1999, my tangible exposure to my family legacy began when I lived with my Grandma Hutch. We would sit together for hours with her telling me stories and showing me photos of Fred and my grandfather. When I had the opportunity to join the Hutch Award committee, I jumped at it because I knew I wanted to get involved to see what the Hutch was all about. Helping others is something that I’ve learned from the beginning from my family, but I never really knew how to give back and carry on my grandfather’s legacy until I started volunteering at the Hutch.
I remember a day at a family reunion in Idaho, when I was about 7 years old. As soon as lunch was cleared from the table, my grandfather’s black bag came out. My Aunt Mary set her arm down on the table, and my grandfather proceeded to cut her open and remove a fatty tumor from her arm ― in the middle of a family reunion, with kids running around! I was super intrigued with what he was doing ― and nauseous ― and from that moment, I wanted to be a doctor. But in college, I became intrigued by the financial world, mostly through working with my father.
My grandfather told me, “Not that you wouldn’t make a good doctor, but it’s about your heart, it’s not about anything else. You have to love this.” He was beautiful in his message, something I’m sure his patients experienced.
Private donations were critical for my grandfather to open up the doors at the Hutch, because federal funding from Congress’s National Cancer Act weren’t enough. Private funding is much more critical today, 40 years later — especially because [National Institutes of Health] grants are peer-reviewed, and peers have a tendency toward the conservative so fewer and fewer cutting-edge grants obtain NIH approvals. But this particular geographic area of the country is very educated and looking to step outside of the box, because they’re sick and tired of the same old thing.
At the very first happy hour for Innovator’s Network [a group of young professionals who fund innovative early-stage research at Fred Hutch], we had some incredible doctors there, and one of them was Dr. Jim Olson.
My grandfather was disciplined in all aspects of his life, and one of those disciplines was his choice to not drink alcohol. But when the brilliant and engaging Dr. Olson got up in front of the crowd to speak, he put his wineglass on the podium. At that time I knew: It was a different generation. I knew we had it. The wineglass was symbolic: The Hutch needed a different approach to a different generation in order to carry on the center’s legacy. And so that moment was just beautiful.
And of course Dr. Olson just blew the whole room out when he started talking about the Israeli deathstalker scorpion and his use of its venom for Tumor Paint: We’re all looking around at each other like, “Are you kidding me? This is great!”
Much like I was raised, Amy and I tell our kids [when we visit Fred Hutch]: “You’re going to see your name, and remember you didn’t do anything for your name to be on that building. You’re part of the legacy, but it was your great-grandfather Hutch who did all the work. Daddy didn’t do the work, Mommy didn’t do the work. And that’s why, because we’re not doctors, we invite our friends to help raise money and give back to the legacy that has taken care of sick people for a long time.”
I would like to see them start attending some more events that are kid-friendly — I see it as a way to inspire them to get involved earlier than I did.
We as IN members are lucky to be aligned with a center like Fred Hutch, because of the support that they give us and the ability to do something that we’re passionate about. We’re proud — very proud.
Not just me, but everyone. I’m proud to represent a center like Fred Hutch, knowing that it’s one of the top in the world. You know that they’re going to deliver, you know that when you bring the money in it’s going to be spent well, and you know it’s going to have a direct impact on your family and friends when they get the disease.