Hall foundation pledges $75 million to hospital - KCTV5

Hall foundation pledges $75 million to hospital

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The Hall Family Foundation has committed $75 million to Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City to build a medical research building but only if voters approve a half-cent sales tax for such research. (Brett Hacker/KCTV5) The Hall Family Foundation has committed $75 million to Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City to build a medical research building but only if voters approve a half-cent sales tax for such research. (Brett Hacker/KCTV5)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV/AP) -

The Hall Family Foundation has committed $75 million to Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City to build a medical research building but only if voters approve a half-cent sales tax for such research.

Jackson County residents will vote on the proposed sales tax in November. It would raise an estimated $800 million for medical research over 20 years.

This is the largest pledge ever made by the private foundation started by the Hall family, founders of Hallmark Cards Inc.

"We can become a national entity in medical research," Bill Hall, president of the Hall Family Foundation, said. "I think it means both medical breakthroughs and an increase in jobs in a growing industry. I think we can become a national powerhouse."

Donald J. Hall, chairman of the Hall Family Foundation, said in a statement that the $75 million would be used for constructing the building, which would allow the sales tax revenue to be used to hire scientists, researchers and support staff.

It would build the Institute for Translational Medicine of Jackson County. It would help create standards of care for cases like that of Earl McWilliams' daughter, Millie. She has a rare gene that causes development delays. She can't walk or talk, and her condition was only recently diagnosed.

"This facility means we will get more definitive answers. If not working for a cure, at least finding a way to treat it," McWilliams said. "My daughter turned 8 a few days ago, and we have never had a conversation with her. I feel like this type of facility will set the tone for other facilities like it."

Of the money raised by the tax, $20 million annually would go to Children's Mercy while St. Luke's hospital system and the University of Missouri at Kansas City would get $8 million each.

The tax already has opposition.

"Finding cures will require hundreds of millions in startup money, multiple buildings, multiple facilities," said Dr. Brad Bradshaw of Citizens of Responsible Research. "This just won't be even close to sufficient. We really need statewide support for this."

He estimates that a statewide tax would produce $500 million annually. He also questioned how Jackson County rushed it onto to the November ballot, saying they are trying to sneak it past voters.

"It's not going to have enough funding to be successful. A statewide measure would be a much better idea and have the resources to carry Missouri into the top research areas in the United States."

In addition to being a physician, Bradshaw is a Springfield-based attorney.

Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders said this tax makes sense on a number of levels and the research can save lives.

"It's smart from a business perspective to invest into one of the largest growing areas in the United States and the world: medical research. It's smart to invest in that and place Kansas City's marker on an industry that continues to grow and buck the economy," he said. "The people that will benefit from the gift from the institute are people that don't even know they'll benefit. It's more likely their heir children haven't even been born yet. It will change their lives and give them hope."

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