Sheldon Greenberg – A lifetime commitment to the City of Hope
By Elizabeth Marie Himchak
For Rancho Bernardan Sheldon “Shelly” Greenberg, raising millions of dollars for City of Hope National Medical Center has become a lifelong endeavor.
The Chicago native became involved with the medical facility based in Duarte, Calif., when in 1959 his liquor business associates selected City of Hope as the charity they would support. Since then, he has become involved with the organization at the national level, led several fundraising campaigns, was named its 1978 Man of the Year (an honor that led to $625,000 raised for bone marrow advances), served on its Board of Governors and Leadership Council, and opened the San Diego office.
After retiring in 1992 he moved to Rancho Bernardo. His son lives in San Diego and since then other family members have relocated here too. During the mid-1940s Greenberg was stationed in San Diego as a Navy X-ray technician whose work for more than three years focused on those with tuberculosis.
While not directly inspiring his later philanthropic efforts, ironically City of Hope was founded 99 years ago to treat tuberculosis patients. At the time, they had to be isolated because the disease — also known as consumption — was very contagious and successful treatment options were limited.
In the post World War II era, once the tuberculosis vaccine made the disease less life threatening, City of Hope’s research focus changed to cancer. In subsequent decades this has expanded to include other life-threatening diseases such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS.
“City of Hope has been a very important part of my life for many years,” Greenberg said, mentioning some of the facility’s successes, including being the first to develop synthetic human insulin in 1978.
“The strides it has made in cancer research and in AIDS has been phenomenal over the last 10 years, much more than in the first 60,” he added.
Greenberg said one reason he likes City of Hope is that it will treat anybody. In a typical week the 85-year-old said he still receives five or six calls from people requesting assistance in obtaining treatment.
His fundraising efforts for more than a half-century have focused on large events and corporate donations. He is among those leading the effort to raise $1 billion in honor of City of Hope’s 100th anniversary next year and planning its 2013 gala.
Though not personally affected by cancer, Greenberg said he has seen how successful City of Hope’s work has been in helping friends recover and continue to function normally.
In addition to raising millions for City of Hope’s research endeavors, Greenberg said he has donated at least $1 million himself over the year. These include buying two examining room for the facility, having his children recognized there and getting his extended family involved with City of Hope and other charitable causes as well.
For information about City of Hope, go to www.cityofhope.org. Its chapters include one in Rancho Bernardo. To join, contact Linda Simon at 858-487-8041.
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