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Elks foundation promises $2.5M in next 10 years for UA research center

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Photographer: Darci L. Slaten and Photographer: Darci L. Slaten | The Daily Wildcat Courtesy of Darci L. Slaten

The Arizona Steele Children’s Research Center will receive $2.5 million in financial support from the Arizona Elks Major Projects within the next 10 years. The project has been supporting the Steele Center for the past 20 years and has already raised about $5 million to fund several different initiatives within the center.

One million dollars of the funds will go toward supporting basic science research for various disorders, autoimmune diseases, multiple sclerosis and celiac disease, said Fayez Ghishan, director of the Arizona Steele Children’s Research Center.

The other $1.5 million will help establish the Arizona Elks Endowed Chair Research Center in Phoenix, which will provide financial support benefiting children in the future, Ghishan said. The endowed chair will help recruit research leaders from all over the nation to head the center in Phoenix, he added.

The Elks project has been a supportive partner in all aspects of the center’s missions, said Lori Stratton, the center’s director of development.

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“Our mission is to teach and they have supported money for education … and to discover science,” Stratton said. “They have been 360 degrees supportive.”

The funding is not meant to duplicate the labs offered in Tucson, but to extend the research that works directly to assist the children in the greater metropolitan Phoenix area, Stratton said.

“By opening a facility in Phoenix, we can impact more children and move science faster and closer to new ways of treating children with illnesses,” she said.

The center in Tucson currently has 27 labs that do basic science research, while the center that will open in Phoenix will focus on extending the clinical transitional research, she added.

The Arizona Elks has 47 different lodges for 28,000 members that work year-round to help raise funds to support a project that helps improve health treatments for child illnesses, said Jerry Grimes, president of the Arizona Elks Major Projects.

Each lodge is a chapter of the Elks project from a different city, and each holds fundraising events to contribute to the commitment of raising the money for the center, Grimes added.

“We want to see healthy, happy kids in the state of Arizona and we feel one of the best ways to do that is to provide money for research that will find cures for certain diseases for kids,” said Al Skorupski, the Arizona Elks Major Projects’ executive director.

The project has been able to collect $42,440 for the center since May 1, when efforts began, Grimes said.

“It’s tremendous to have their support,” Stratton said. “It’s great to have that many people out there to understand what we do and share the good work we do with people.”


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