“We have waited a long time for this special day!” said Margaret Wells, Chairman of The Outer Banks Hospital’s Development Council, prior to cutting the ribbon on the Cancer Resource Center. Wells recalled when the 5 original Council members were sitting around the table in the hospital’s boardroom, mapping out goals and discussing different venues. “We knew from the first that the Outer Banks needed a resource for cancer patients and their families to help them navigate the world of cancer services. None of us thought we could raise the money in just over 2 years,” she added.

Once the project was launched in the spring of 2005, the hospital offered to donate 1,200 square feet of office space in the medical office building adjacent to the hospital. Preliminary figures to refurbish and furnish the space, which was an open area of pipes and sheet rock, were more than $200,000.

The start up costs did not include annual operating costs: supplies, rent, utilities and personnel. The hospital again took the lead, committing to underwriting these costs, including the salary of a social worker to staff the office.

There was never a question of how to raise the money, with council members agreeing to host a black tie dinner dance. “When the Development Council first brought us the idea of raising money for a Cancer Resource Center we gave it our blessing,” said Bob Middlebrooks, Chairman of the hospital’s Board of Directors. “None of us imagined the community’s remarkable response to the need. And none of us envisioned that a first-time event would raise substantial funds for the Center.”

During the fall of 2005, the Council’s fundraising efforts were enhanced by a $25,000 naming gift from The East Carolina Bank to fund the interior consultation office. “The Bank recognized the need for this service in the community,” said Olin Davis, Senior Vice President at ECB.

The black tie affair was named Flights of Fancy in recognition of the National Park Service permitting the hospital to utilize the Wright Brothers Memorial Pavilion in Kill Devil Hills. The gala sold out weeks before the January event, netting close to $130,000. “I remember at one point during that evening, looking around at the 400 people assembled at the Wright Brothers Memorial and thinking ‘We are truly blessed,’” said Wells. Council and gala committee members continued to work tirelessly to raise the remainder of the funds so the Center could open. The second gala netted more than $100,000 which permitted work to begin.

“This outstanding group of volunteers, with the community’s support, have completed a project which will make a positive difference in the lives of so many of us who live and work on the Outer Banks,” said Van Smith, hospital president. “We owe them an enormous debt of gratitude for their vision and their relentless commitment to the Cancer Resource Center.”

Cancer Resource Center: Benefits to the Community

  • Education for the patient and their family so they may actively participate in a treatment plan
  • Support groups for the patient and for their family members
  • Access to the most updated information, including drug trials
  • Assistance with hair loss, skin care, nail care and make-up
  • Networking with others with the same experience
  • Assistance with referrals and coordination of services thus reducing the need for travel
  • Educational outreach, which will improve the overall health of the community