Meaningful gifts

“Why wouldn’t I give?” That’s the reason Mark Townsend offers when he’s asked about his contributions to SIU School of Medicine and Simmons Cancer Institute at SIU. “Both of my parents died from cancer – one in 2003 and the other in 2005,” Townsend says. “In 2005, I was also diagnosed with cancer.”

Fortunately, Townsend’s cancer was detected and treated at an early stage. But his individual response to these hurdles has made a positive impact on the community.

Townsend began volunteering at SCI’s Denim and Diamonds annual gala to help him give back in a more personal way. Townsend’s easy-going personality puts people at ease and his enthusiasm about giving is contagious. He has served Denim and Diamonds in numerous volunteer positions, including event chair, from 2006-2013. “I tell people to come to Denim and Diamonds,” he says. “Our committee is really close; it’s like a family.”

In fact, he’s gotten his family involved too. “My mom, my brother and I have volunteered and we have gotten friends to volunteer,” says Townsend’s daughter, Mollie. “I’m really proud that my dad has gone beyond his own experiences to find such a meaningful way to give back, and he has inspired my family and our friends to volunteer and donate however we can.”

written by Rebecca Budde