Personal Losses Lead to Supporting Research for Cancer and Heart Disease

University of Arizona Foundation Gift Planning

For attorney William Heller, supporting research for cancer and heart disease is more than an act of charity—it is a personal mission fueled by the grief of having lost family members to both diseases. Mr. Heller chose to funnel his grief into action, resulting in the establishment of an estate gift to benefit the University of Arizona’s Arizona Cancer Center and Sarver Heart Center.

His passion for philanthropy began during childhood. While growing up in Delaware and the suburbs of Philadelphia, Mr. Heller’s parents, Robert and Sydney Heller, and his aunt and uncle, Mae and Benjamin Friedman, instilled in him the importance of giving back.

As an adult, Mr. Heller enjoyed a successful career as an attorney with the federal government and, during retirement, was an employee of the Highways Department of the Arizona Department of Transportation. Throughout each phase of his life, the examples his family set as community volunteers resonated with him, inspiring him to achieve and to strive to make a difference.

After his aunt and uncle succumbed to cancer, his father’s fatal heart attack struck, and his mother’s cardiovascular health collapsed, Mr. Heller knew he had to act.

He views his gift to the University as a way to help defeat those malicious diseases, and also as a way to forge a legacy for the family members who gave him so much. He hopes that leaving his estate to the Arizona Cancer Center and Sarver Heart Center will honor other families as well.

“I want the research to help other people who have been touched by these diseases,” Mr. Heller said. “That’s the way [my family] raised me, and there is no doubt I am doing the right thing. This is what they would want me to do.”

Mr. Heller’s generous endowed gift passing from his estate will support heart and cancer research in perpetuity.



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