DENVER – Following the loss of their 9-year-old son Adam to an extremely rare form of leukemia in 1993, Randy and Gwenn Hertel vowed to try and make a difference and help other children survive cancer and prevent parents from ever having to experience the unimaginable loss of a child.
Over the past two decades, Randy Hertel, an executive vice president at the nation’s largest privately-held real estate development company, Majestic Realty Co., did what he and the company do best, put together a visionary plan for long-term solutions. Tapping his network of commercial real estate industry colleagues and friends, and fueled by the support of the companies and brokers affiliated with SIOR (the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors®) and NAIOP (the National Association of Industrial and Office Parks), as well as the Majestic Realty Foundation, Hertel led a mission to raise $1 million for the Adam James Hertel Research Fund at Children’s Hospital Colorado.
For the past 15 years, the Hertels have personally matched the gifts of friends and family, many of which came from the local commercial real estate community. In addition, the Majestic Realty Foundation consistently helped by “matching the match” and, together, these matching gifts and personal contributions helped cancer research at Children’s Colorado progress exponentially faster.
As the fund reached the $1 million mark, Majestic President and Chairman of the Board, Edward P. Roski, Jr. made a $1 million matching gift helping to expand the Fund into a powerful Cancer Research Corps and spurring the hospital’s world-class researchers toward more cures for more types of pediatric cancer.
“We salute the Hertel family for their compassion and generosity in the face of unimaginable personal loss,” said Children’s Hospital Colorado President and CEO Jena Hausmann. “When they created the Adam James Hertel Cancer Research Fund, they made the incredibly altruistic decision to fund any type of pediatric cancer research, so that the most promising developments and ideas could move from bench to bedside more quickly.
“Through the incredible generosity of Mr. Roski, the Majestic Realty Foundation, the Hertel family and the commercial real estate community, our cancer research enterprise is more nimble and more innovative than anywhere else in the country. The Adam James Hertel Cancer Research Corps will continue to foster the growth of our in-house talent like experimental therapeutics director Meg Macy, M.D., and neuro-oncology innovator Jean Mulcahy-Levy, M.D., while recruiting national superstars like immunology expert Michael Verneris, M.D., and cellular therapy pioneer Terry Fry, M.D., whom we have just recruited from the National Cancer Institute.”
Hertel, who leads Majestic’s Colorado operations, described the common thread connecting Majestic Realty and Children’s Colorado, “We are all builders – builders of communities, builders of progress, builders of hope. Our family has been absolutely astonished and humbled by the deep and long-standing support of our friends, family and peers, most particularly our ‘Majestic family’ who have been so incredibly generous for so many years.”
Dr. Lia Gore, head of the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Hospital Colorado, seconded this sentiment, noting that the Adam James Hertel Cancer Research Corps will make significant strides as a result of the now $2 million fund, including:
- adding to the physical and intellectual resources available to researchers by rallying funds behind the most promising projects;
- incorporating virtual research partners regionally, nationally and globally;
- increasing collaboration between and among adult and pediatric cancer researchers, thus maximizing opportunities to apply discoveries relevant to one type of cancer to another based on the biological origins of the specific cancer or the specific therapy; and
- facilitating more efficient export of new discoveries internationally, so that therapeutic advances can impact children fighting cancer wherever they may live.
By doing the basic science, rapidly translating discoveries into clinical trials and running those trials all from a central base of operations, Children’s Hospital Colorado is bringing more novel therapies and more new drugs to fruition more quickly and expeditiously exporting these new discoveries to caregivers around the globe.
Dr. Gore noted that the Adam James Hertel Cancer Research Corps will expand treatment options and improve survival rates for children with even the very toughest cancers, whether they live here in the western U.S. or an ocean away.
“We’ve made slow but steady progress over the past few decades,” said Dr. Gore. “The time is right for the next milestone … and the next. Until we can give every single family good news in the face of a tough diagnosis, until every child with every form of cancer can hear us say ‘we’ve got this and you’re going to be ok,’ then we need to aim higher and try harder. We thank Mr. Roski and our friends at Majestic for helping the Hertel family’s vision become such a stunning reality.”