May 21, 2008
Contact: Jennifer Ekman, USA Public Relations, (251) 460-6360

Ethelyn B. Hays Endowement Gives $584,000 to USA Mitchell Cancer Institute
Gift to Help Provide Payment Assistance to Cancer Patients in Financial Need

                  Ethelyn Hays

The Ethelyn B. Hays Endowment Fund has donated $584,000 to the University of South Alabama Mitchell Cancer Institute to provide payment assistance to cancer patients in financial need.

The first $1 million in gifts from the Hays Endowment will be matched at a 50 percent rate by the University. To date, the Hays Endowment’s $389,572 gift has been matched by $194,786 for a total gift of $584,358. The donation will be recognized by naming two areas within the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute. The Outdoor Terrace and Garden and the Oncology Infusion Suite Pharmacy will be renamed in honor of Ethelyn B. Hays, a 41-year-old mother of four who fought a courageous and public campaign against leukemia before her death in 1995.

Diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia in 1988, Hays and her family searched unsuccessfully for a matching bone marrow donor for six years.

During that time, she was forced to drop her insurance when the monthly premiums jumped from $370 to $5,000. Once a match was found in 1994, Hays’ family and friends launched a “Lifesavers for Ethelyn” fund-raising campaign for the transplant and health care costs. In August 1995, Hays died from liver and kidney failure, a side-effect of her radiation and chemotherapy treatments. The Endowment was started then with money left over from the fund-raisers.

Mary Kathryn Hays Bishop, one of Hays’ daughters who teaches at Fairhope Middle School, said the gift to the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute will help the Endowment live out its true purpose: remembering her mother’s courage and sacrifice.

“It will live past us and past our children and it will always be there to help other people,” Bishop said.

She said her mother’s friends, who helped with the fund-raisers during the illness, have kept the endowment going through the years. They have held fund-raisers and offered scholarships. “They have managed it beautifully throughout the years,” she said.

Emily Garner, president of the board of directors of the Hays Endowment Fund, said, “We are thrilled we can continue to help people burdened by critical illnesses and financial challenges. We feel very strongly, as Ethelyn did, that when you have hope, you can visualize a future for yourself. We view this partnership as a means to remember who Ethelyn was, and her goal of giving hope by helping others.”

Dr. Joseph F. Busta Jr., vice president for development and alumni relations at USA, said, “This gift will greatly benefit patients and families whose financial resources have been drained by the costs they must fund in their battle against cancer. “

The Hays gift is part of Campaign USA, the University’s first comprehensive fund-raising campaign that seeks to raise $75 million for USA programs, faculty, students and construction over three years. Campaign USA was launched in March 2006 and, to date, has raised $65.5 million. The Campaign USA Leadership team is comprised of local civic, business and national leaders, many of whom are alumni.

Campaign USA will enrich all aspects of USA, from its academic colleges and schools to its hospitals, athletic programs, libraries and campuses. The money raised will be used to fund such items as undergraduate and graduate scholarships, professorships, classroom and laboratory equipment, and health care innovations. Funds will also be used for capital enhancements to USA’s track and soccer programs and a campus bell tower.

For information on Campaign USA, visit or call (251) 460-7032.

The University of South Alabama
Since its founding in 1963, the University of South Alabama has been one of Alabama’s fastest growing universities, currently enrolling more than 14,000 students in a wide range of academic programs in Allied Health Professions, Arts and Sciences, Mitchell College of Business, Computer and Information Sciences, Continuing Education and Special Programs, Education, Engineering, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. The University has awarded 62,000 degrees.

In addition to teaching and research, USA is one of the largest health care providers in the Mobile region, with its faculty physicians and two hospitals – Children’s & Women’s and USA Medical Center – involved in more than a quarter million patient encounters annually. 


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