$1 Million to Fund Head and Neck Cancer Chair at The James

Two siblings are honoring their deceased parents by pledging $1 million to create an endowed chair in head and neck cancer research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC–James).

Ron Alford of Westerville, Ohio, along with his sister Barb Cantlin and her husband Mike of Newark, Ohio, have pledged the additional funding over the next four years.

Their $1 million pledge adds to the original $500,000 donation made by John Alford to create the first research endowment at The James shortly after the cancer hospital opened in July 1990.

After his wife died of stomach cancer in 1987, John Alford chose to honor her memory by creating the Mary E. Alford Cancer Research Endowment Fund for Cancer Research at The James. When John Alford died of esophageal cancer in 1996, his children donated an additional $500,000 to create the Mary E. and John W. Alford Cancer Research Endowment Fund at The James.

With the latest gift pledge, once the fund reaches $2 million it will be renamed the Mary E. and John W. Alford Research Chair in Head and Neck Cancer.

“The level of support to The James shown by the Alford family through the years is a testament to their lifelong mission of trying to improve and enhance the lives of others,” says Dr. Michael Caligiuri, director of Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center and CEO of The James. “This additional funding will allow us to continue attracting the most outstanding researchers and physicians to the team that makes up our world-class head and neck cancer program.”

Part of the funding will come from the Alford Family Foundation, which is operated by Ron Alford and Barb Cantlin and primarily supports organizations in Licking County, where John and Mary raised their family in Newark, Ohio, during their 36-year marriage.

“Our Dad always had a love of the Buckeyes and he had an allegiance to the University. He was very giving, and the last 10 years of his life he was known more as a philanthropist than as a banker,” says Ron Alford, who last year was successfully treated at The James for cancer of the larynx.

John Alford was a prominent banker in Licking County, where he rose through the ranks at Park National Bank, eventually becoming director, president, CEO and chairman of the Bank’s executive committee. He also served as president of the Ohio Banker’s Association and was a member of the Cleveland Federal Reserve Board and the Visa International Board.

“We look at this gift as a tribute to our parents, and we are proud that the gift will support cancer research at The James,” says Barb Cantlin. “We always try to give back to Licking County, and there is a clear connection with this gift. We know that plenty of people in Licking County have benefited from The James. Daddy always taught us to give back."

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