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Giving to medicine and health at the University of Minnesota

Where the heart is

John and Nancy Lindahl (Photo: Dan Marshall)

Couple’s gifts support healthy children now and into the future

John and Nancy Lindahl are two of the University of Minnesota’s biggest cheerleaders. Together the two alumni successfully led a $90 million fundraising campaign for TCF Bank Stadium. Nancy also is a member of the University of Minnesota Foundation Board of Trustees, while John serves on its heart fundraising advisory committee.

And through their many connections to the University over the years, they’ve only grown to appreciate it more.

“If there’s a problem out there that needs to be solved, there’s only one place where all of these incredibly bright, talented, courageous, dedicated people belong and where they serve,” says Nancy Lindahl. “I’ve always believed [the University was] a source for so many things that are right and good.”

It has become a logical place for the couple to direct much of their giving. But deeply personal family ties helped them decide what initiatives to support.

When they chose to adopt a room at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital in 2010, they did so in loving memory of their first son, Andrew John Lindahl, who died just days after he was born in the spring of 1973.

“We’ve always believed that this is a child who, with better medical care, would have lived,” John Lindahl says. Medicine just wasn’t advanced enough to save his life at the time, he adds.

The Lindahls describe their latest major gift to the University as a “cross-pollination” of their passions for pediatrics, research, and heart health. (Both of Nancy’s parents were University faculty members, and both died of heart attacks on campus.)

Established with a gift of $1 million, the John and Nancy Lindahl Children’s Heart Research Innovators Fund will provide startup funding for the most forward-thinking scientists to get novel research projects off the ground. The gift will be recognized in the new Cancer and Cardiovascular Research Building, which is slated to open this summer in the University’s burgeoning Biomedical Discovery District—located right behind TCF Bank Stadium.

The Lindahls say it’s especially meaningful that their gift will be acknowledged in a building that’s designed to promote scientific collaboration between disciplines.

And they see potential for their gift to help find better ways to treat and prevent heart disease in both children and adults. “So many adult problems can be solved by starting the research in children,” Nancy Lindahl says.

John Lindahl considers this a “base gift” that will help the projects it funds attract even more support from other sources such as the National Institutes of Health. “I would hope that one of the things that comes out of this is that the contribution can really be leveraged multiple times,” he says.

And because it’s the University of Minnesota, the Lindahls are confident it will happen.

“It’s where the answers come to the great questions,” Nancy Lindahl says.

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