Halls will donate $75 million if county sales tax passes

By Joe Lambe

If the Jackson County health sales tax passes, the Hall family and the Hall Family Foundation will donate $75 million to build the county Institute for Translational Medicine.

The four-story building would be built on top of the parking garage at Children’s Mercy Hospital, officials announced today.

“This gift eliminates the need for taxpayer dollars to go toward bricks and mortar,” Hallmark Cards Chairman Donald Hall said in a press statement. “It allows the proceeds of the sales tax to go directly toward hiring world-class scientists, researchers and support staff.”

The half-cent sales tax to pay for that goes to county voters Nov. 5. If passed, it would raise $40 million a year for 20 years.

The institute would be a partnership of Children’s Mercy, Saint Luke’s Health System, UMKC, and the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute.

William Hall, president of the Hall Family Foundation, said the tax would be the cornerstone to launch more groundbreaking work by the three medical institutions.

Better county health care, new treatments and cures will result, he said.

“The tax is transformational – if it is passed we will look back and say it helped shape our city,” he said.

Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders’ voice broke at times when he told how research done by Children’s Mercy doctors saved the life of his son, who is now starting first grade.

More money for such research will save the lives of children not yet born, he said.

“The people who will benefit from this gift today for the institute do not even know yet they will benefit,” Sanders said of the pledged donation.

Earl McWilliams, seen here with his wife Angela and Dr. Sarah Soden, said the hospital discovered his daughter’s rare condition.

Earl McWilliams, father of 8-year-old Millie McWilliams, told how Children’s Mercy Dr. Sarah Soden and gene sequencing work found the gene mutation that left his daughter disabled.

It took years and a scientific breakthrough to discover that his daughter is among about 10 persons in the world known to have the condition, he said.

“Families like mine who are on a journey of discovery can now get the answers they want,” he said.

Wednesday morning, officials said, Children’s Mercy got word it had received a $5.8 million federal grant to further its genetic sequencing research.

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