Major Gift Advances Whitfield Healthcare Foundation's $8 Million Capital Campaign

    Philanthropists Willena and Shelby Peeples 


    Photo: (L-R): Scott Sellers, Whitfield Healthcare Foundation chair, and local philanthropists Willena and Shelby Peeples are pictured at a recent Foundation Board of Trustees’ meeting where the lead gift was announced. 

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    Scott Sellers, chairman of the Whitfield Healthcare Foundation, recently announced that the Foundation has received a significant lead gift toward the development of the Hamilton Cancer Institute from local philanthropists Willena and Shelby Peeples.  The gift, announced at a recent Board of Trustees’ meeting, brings the total philanthropic giving in the current capital campaign to $5.9 million toward the Foundation’s three-year $8 million goal supporting construction of the Institute.

    The 40,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility will be located on Memorial Drive across the street from the main hospital entrance. The configuration of the Institute will encourage collaboration among a team of physicians and staff, and will integrate services currently located across the Hamilton campus into a comprehensive, multidisciplinary facility. The leading-edge, three-level Institute will offer patients expert care with state-of-the-art technologies, easily navigated services, and enhanced patient and family support in a healing, patient-centered environment.

    Hamilton has engaged in a bold vision for the future of cancer care as part of our strategic plan,” said Lamar Lyle, chairman of the Hamilton Health Care System Board of Trustees. “The record pace of giving underway at the Whitfield Healthcare Foundation reflects the trust and confidence that this vision has inspired in others. We are indeed blessed by Willena and Shelby Peeples’ insightful understanding of the connection between philanthropy and advances in patient care.”

    Announcement of the gift comes just five months after the January launch of the Foundation’s ONE campaign. The ONE capital campaign, launched as One Vision, One Institute, One Community, has been adopted to create community engagement and support for the Institute.  The Institute will further strengthen Hamilton’s cancer care program by integrating medical, radiation and surgical oncology services under one roof to better serve patients.

    “Exceptionally high demand has outstripped the capacity of our physical facilities,” said Jeff Myers, president and CEO of Hamilton Health Care System. “Our physicians are achieving remarkable results with their control and cure rates in the treatment of patients. The new Cancer Institute will allow us to springboard from these achievements and elevate care for patients and their families through our investment in a comprehensive, integrated approach. Our medical team will implement the latest advances in technology and have the finest equipment available in the nation today.  We aspire to do our best in serving our patients and families, and want them to feel confident that they will receive the best care here at Hamilton.”

    The Peeples’ legacy gift will transform the landscape of cancer care in our community and region,” said Sellers. “Willena and Shelby Peeples are community visionaries who are committed to advancing the delivery of cancer care services, and in so doing, changing the lives of our cancer patients and their families.  The Foundation and all those whose lives have been touched by cancer will be forever grateful to Willena and Shelby for their magnificent gift.”

    Shelby Peeples is a local entrepreneur and carpet industry leader, who, along with wife Willena, has a long history of support of the Whitfield Healthcare Foundation.  The couple shares a strong belief in helping others. “When we learned of Hamilton’s vision to construct a Cancer Institute for this community, we were inspired to be a part of this project,” said Peeples.  “We began to imagine what Hamilton could do for patients and families in our region through this commitment to advancements in patient care. Our decision to support Hamilton’s plans was reached prior to our own family being touched by a new cancer diagnosis. Now, more than ever, we understand the importance of bringing new hope through advancing cancer services right here at home.  We are proud to do what we can to help Hamilton achieve its goals.”

    Willena and Shelby have provided a leadership gift which we hope will inspire and challenge our community to come forward with their gifts.  A mix of grassroots giving and major philanthropy is essential to the success of this project,” said Jane Snipes, executive director, Whitfield Healthcare Foundation.

    Robert Smalley, chair of the Foundation’s Signature Gifts Committee, said the Peeples’ generous support acknowledges the great potential that the Hamilton Cancer Institute holds for revolutionizing cancer care in this region. “As I stated recently, ‘Don’t tell this community we can’t do something.’ This gift is a powerful endorsement of Hamilton’s efforts, and we encourage others in our community to give to help us reach our $8 million goal.”

    We are grateful for this tremendous gift which gives us the latitude to create what is best for our patients and will accelerate our efforts to attack and treat cancer,” said William McKay, MD, director of radiation oncology. “We believe in our plan to provide patient-centered care focused on the diagnosis, treatment and healing of the whole patient. Our patients are at the center of our efforts to provide highly personalized care using the latest advances and techniques. We are including new initiatives to improve the patient experience and expand our family and community services.”

    As part of Hamilton’s multipronged approach to building the best facility, the Whitfield Healthcare Foundation has engaged community members in the design and development phase of the Institute. Focus groups which have included cancer survivors, caregivers, and community members have been interviewed to gain feedback about the needs of patients and families as well as desirable services and program offerings. 

    As an innovative leading-edge center, Hamilton Cancer Institute is expected to draw new medical talent and will offer an inspiring and efficient patient-care environment.  The building is expected to receive certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™, a benchmarking standard developed by the U.S. Green Building Council that evaluates the environmental performance of buildings.

    Groundbreaking for the Institute is scheduled for late fall of this year, with completion slated for 2018. For giving opportunities or to learn more, visit or call 706-272-6128.