Remembering Lute Olson: Olsons donate $1 million

Matt Robles/Arizona Daily Wildcat | The Daily Wildcat

Lute Olson speaks to greek members last semester in front of Old Main to kick off "CatWalk." Yesterday Olson announced he would donate $1 million to support cancer research.

Legendary Arizona men's basketball coach Lute Olson died Thursday, Aug. 27, at the age of 85. As part of its coverage looking back on Olson's life on and off the basketball court, the Daily Wildcat presents this story from our archives. 

Originally written on Jan. 5, 2005, by Roman Veytsman

Lute Olson, head coach of the UA men's basketball team announced yesterday the Olson family plans to make a $1 million contribution to the Arizona Cancer Center. The donation is a gift from the family and will benefit the Bobbi Olson Endowment for Ovarian Cancer Research. 


Olson said the donation "will set the stage" for a community that leads the world in women's cancer research, and "help things really happen." 

Dr. David S. Alberts, Bobbi Olson's physician and the director of the Arizona Cancer Center thanked Olson and said he felt grateful Bobbi's memory is helping to find the cure for this disease. 

He also said that the Arizona Cancer Center is one of the highest ranked centers in the world and that it would only get better. 

Olson called the center and the Tucson community an "oasis in the desert," a sentiment echoed by Setsuko K. Chambers, M.D. 

"As director of the Division of Women's Cancers at the Arizona Cancer Center, I am most grateful to the Olson family for this generous donation," Chambers said in a press release.

RELATED: Remembering Lute Olson: Lute Olson's 500th win milestone in life as coach, family man, private citizen 

"I am firmly committed to developing this new clinical and research division. This gift is an important first step in helping realize our shared vision," she said. 

Bobbi Olson passed away from ovarian cancer Jan. 1, 2001, after a 2 1/2 year battle with the disease. 

"Bobbi's wish was that we would do everything we could do to cure this disease," Olson said.

The goal of the fund raising effort is to raise $50 million dollars, according to Alberts, which would make the Arizona Cancer Center the "center of the world" for research on women's cancer.

"(Bobbi) told me that I had to continue to fight and I told her that we would do that, but we would really gear up," Alberts said.

The money will go to infrastructure, including hiring new clinicians and researchers as well as building a new structure on North Campbell Avenue at the University Medical Center North Campus.

"It's a great day," Alberts said.

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