Gift pushes advanced medical research from vision to reality

The generous lead gift from VISION 2020 campaign chairs and community leaders Rick and Jeanene Stephens will establish the Stephens Family Clinical Research Institute at Carle.

The Stephens Family Clinical Research Institute—which will be known for its groundbreaking research, education and clinical trials—will create a culture of excellence and innovation that will attract leading physician scientists who want to apply their talents to outcomes-oriented research and discovery. VISION 2020 is a vital $35-million campaign aimed at transforming and improving healthcare for the nearly 1.5 million people living in Carle’s extended service region.

Every part of this important effort puts the patient first.

“I’m so excited because of the real difference this campaign can make for people struggling with cancer, diabetes, heart issues and neurological disorders,” Jeanene Stephens said.

“Patients will benefit from both the exceptional care Carle already provides and the breakthroughs from new research.”

Rick Stephens added, “I think there are moments when you just really have to decide, ‘Is it important to me to have world-class care in my community for the people I know and love? Is it important to solve the problems that no one else is solving and to explore new solutions to global medical issues?’

“For us, the answer is yes, unquestionably.”

The new institute will complement Carle Illinois College of Medicine’s efforts to lead the charge on medical innovation. Using a “bench-to-bedside approach,” the Stephens Family Clinical Research Institute will focus on research that impacts patients quickly and effectively.

“The focus of our campaign is to spur medical innovation and enhance compassionate care,” said Lyn Jones, Carle Center for Philanthropy vice president.

“The Stephens Family Clinical Research Institute will support, nurture, test and apply new discoveries that address today’s critical healthcare challenges.”

Carle President and CEO Dr. James C. Leonard shared word of the exciting lead gift Tuesday at a special donor event.

“The Stephens Family Clinical Research Institute will help transform patient care in our community and beyond by enabling discoveries and developing best practices that will result in higher-quality healthcare at a lower cost and improve access for rural and underserved populations,” he said.

The Stephens understand the importance of vision. For Rick, that vision unfolded in 1985, when he and his colleagues transformed Horizon Hobby from a small, basement start-up to a global hobby manufacturer and distributor. Since then, he and Jeanene have been tireless advocates for a long list of causes, from providing housing for orphans in Haiti to helping families with special needs here at home. In 2010, their lead gift helped create the Stephens Family YMCA, designed for people of all abilities.

With their latest gift, their generosity reaches even further.

“Individuals and families in our community and around the world will benefit from the breakthrough devices and therapeutics that transform the way doctors diagnose and treat illness,” said Jennifer Eardley, PhD, Carle vice president for research.

To learn more about the VISION 2020 campaign, call Carle Center for Philanthropy at 217-383-3021, email philanthropy@carle.com or visit Giving to Carle.