Endowed chair honors a dedicated advocate for Children’s Cancer Research Fund
Suzanne (Sue) Holmes Hodder thrived on helping others. She was always happy to support her friends and even strangers through projects she believed in — whether it was planning the 1992 Super Bowl or partnering with Lady Bird Johnson to seed Minnesota highway corridors with native wildflowers.
She particularly cherished her volunteer role with Children’s Cancer Research Fund, an organization launched by her close friends Diana and Norm Hageboeck after their daughter Katie died of leukemia in 1979 at age 13.
“Sue was devastated for us. She knew Katie,” says Diana Hageboeck, whose 48-year friendship with Hodder blossomed when Sue was an alumna adviser to Diana’s college sorority. “She was such a part of my support team.”
Before Katie died, she made a special request of her parents: She asked that memorials in her name be donated to a little-known fund at the University called Children’s Cancer Research Fund and that the money she had been saving for a new 10-speed bike be donated to it, too.
The Hageboecks did that and so much more. Hodder was eager to help when they began organizing a grassroots event to raise money through the fund. They wanted to honor Katie’s wishes and spread the word about the worldleading pediatric cancer research happening in their own backyard at the University of Minnesota.
Momentum has only built since 1980, when that first “Dawn of a Dream” raised more than $50,000. Today Children’s Cancer Research Fund has national reach and worldwide impact and has invested more than $60 million in pediatric cancer research exclusively at the University.
“We are amazed and in awe of what it has become over the past 31 years,” Hageboeck says. “We started something that wouldn’t stop! We could not have done it without our many friends and their dedication and enthusiasm.”
Sue Hodder’s enthusiasm will be greatly missed, she adds. Before Hodder died on July 5 of this year, she named Children’s Cancer Research Fund as her memorial fund.
To recognize Hodder’s devotion to the organization, her husband, Bill Hodder, has made an even more powerful gift. With the wholehearted support of their five children, he gave $4 million to create the endowed Suzanne Holmes Hodder Chair in Pediatric Cancer Research and another $1 million for pediatric cancer research to be used over the next few years.
“We all felt we wanted to do something significant in her name,” says Bill Hodder, emphasizing that the family also wanted to honor the Hageboecks by supporting Children’s Cancer Research Fund.
“What we are doing is investing in Diana and Norm and their ‘dream,’” he says. “They have convinced the whole world to fund that dream. They have done a monumental job.”
Sue Hodder was honored posthumously with the 2011 Dream Maker Award at the 31st annual Dawn of a Dream event.
“She loved a celebration,” says Diana Hageboeck, “and we will continue to celebrate her and her dedication to helping others.”
By Nicole Endres
To support innovative pediatric cancer research at the University of Minnesota through Children’s Cancer Research Fund, visit www.childrenscancer.org.