Kirk Family Gives $1 Million to Carilion to Support Growing Cancer Program
Local philanthropists, Bill and Shireen Kirk have donated $1 million to support the expansion of Carilion Clinic’s cancer program that will bring together personalized care, advanced treatment options, and cutting-edge research in a single location.
The project is a strategic priority for Carilion, which has seen a growing number of patients in the region with cancer. The current Cancer Center, built in 1980, is operating at capacity as the result of a 40% increase in patient volume over the past 10 years, including more than 2,000 new cancer patients last year alone.
“Our vision is to provide the best care, experience and healing environment for cancer patients in our region,” said Nancy Howell Agee, Carilion’s president and chief executive officer, “This generous gift from the Kirks puts us one step closer to making our vision a reality.”
Bill Kirk, chairman of Associated Asphalt, is a native Roanoker and was born at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. After graduating from Hampden-Sydney College, Bill went to work for Shell Oil Company in Philadelphia, returning to Roanoke in 1976 to join his father at Fuel Oil and Equipment Company. In 1988, he was appointed president of the company, which later changed its name to Associated Asphalt.
“The Roanoke area is a great place to grow a business and raise a family, and this project will improve the community’s ability to continue to attract high-caliber employees and their families. In addition, the new Cancer Center will help grow the region as a hub for health sciences innovation and discovery,” Bill said.
Shireen Kirk, who comes from a medical family -- her father was a physician and her mother, a nurse – moved to Virginia from Northern Ireland as a child in the early 1960s. She holds a law degree from George Mason University and practiced in Virginia Beach and Northern Virginia before moving to Roanoke in 1995. After a few years with a local firm, Shireen joined Associated Asphalt as General Counsel. Now retired after 22 years in that role, she assists with writing and company history.
“We now believe strongly in giving back to the community that has done so much for us," Shireen said. “Because of my parents, I’ve always appreciated the importance of medicine and maintain a great respect for all medical staff and caretakers who work so selflessly.”
In addition to their deep connection to the medical and Roanoke communities, both the Kirks have lost loved ones to cancer. Bill’s mother died from a form of leukemia in 2009 at the age of 82, and Shireen’s mother passed away in 2016 after many years battling breast cancer. Both Bill and Shireen recognize that support of Carilion’s new cancer program and center will improve the treatment of cancer while also advancing research to prevent cancer.
“It’s people like the Kirks who make this community great,” said Ralph Alee, Carilion Clinic’s vice president for philanthropy. “I’m deeply touched by their generosity and hope that it will inspire others to support our work to bring the latest, most innovative cancer care to patients in our region.”
Carilion has more than five decades of experience treating cancer. In partnership with Blue Ridge Cancer Care, the health system provides comprehensive cancer care for adult and pediatric patients – from diagnosis and treatment to rehabilitation and survivorship – and seeks to advance care through research and clinical trials.
Carilion, like the majority of health systems nationwide, operates as a not-for-profit entity. All operating income is reinvested in facility upgrades, new equipment and technology, and efforts to attract and retain the best talent. The generous support of donors enhances care and accelerates Carilion’s ability to meet the region’s health needs.
ABOUT CARILION CLINIC
Carilion Clinic traces its roots to 1899 when Roanoke Hospital was established as a not-for-profit charitable organization with the mission of providing health care to citizens regardless of their ability to pay. Although it has evolved over the years from a single hospital into a nationally ranked health system, Carilion continues to rely on the generous support of donors to advance its mission.
For more information, visit CarilionFoundation.org.