Philanthropists Charles and Margaret Juravinski plan to create a $100-million endowment fund to support health research at two hospitals and a university in Hamilton.
They say their gift, in the form of an investment, will mean McMaster University, Hamilton Health Sciences and St. Joseph’s 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.
They call themselves lucky people to be able to provide such a gift.
“We knew that no matter one’s 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.”
McMaster, Hamilton Health Sciences and St. Joseph’s Healthcare all welcomed the gift.