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ACS hosts ribbon-cutting for Hope Lodge in Oklahoma City

Grand opening ceremony held for the first Hope Lodge facility in the state.

The American Cancer Society on May 9 held a lively ceremonial grand opening and ribbon-cutting for the American Cancer Society Chad Richison Hope Lodge, located at 801 NE 7th Street in Oklahoma City, OK. The $16.5 million facility is the first and only of its kind in Oklahoma to improve access to cancer care by providing free, temporary lodging for adults living with cancer whose best chance for a cure is far from home.

At the event, guests heard remarks from Dr. Arif Kamal, ACS chief patient officer, pictured above at left; Chad Richison, founder and chief executive officer of Paycom, pictured above in middle; and the Honorable Dan Boren, secretary of commerce for the Chickasaw Nation. But perhaps the most touching was a personal testimony from three-time cancer survivor Shagah Zakerion of Tulsa, who had to travel away from home and out of state each time for her cancer treatment. 

“Lodging was the biggest challenge I faced in finding care,” Zakerion shared. “Finding solace and hope in a community was essential to my ability to make it through treatment.” 

A memorable moment in the program came when guests held up bells and rang them after the ribbon cutting, much like a cancer patient “rings the bell” to mark completion of their treatment or the end of a major milestone. 

“Today, we are ringing the bell on the completion of the American Cancer Society Chad Richison Hope Lodge,” Jeff Fehlis, ACS executive vice president, pictured above at right. “This is the culmination of years and months of hard work and collaboration from the Oklahoma community and beyond to bring a Hope Lodge facility to this great city. We are committed to removing access-to-care barriers that many cancer patients face when they must travel for treatment, and thanks to the generosity of our amazing community partners, this facility will provide them a free ‘home away from home.’” 

Watch news media coverage - like KOCO: Lodging for cancer patients, families traveling for treatment opens in Oklahoma City, at this link, and follow the new facility on Facebook.

The build up

Designed by architectural firm Miles Architecture and constructed by GE Johnson, the nearly 33-thousand square-foot facility was built thanks to community volunteer leaders, organizations, and corporate partners. A $5 million gift from Chad Richison was the largest financial contribution to the campaign. In recognition of this, the facility was named the American Cancer Society Chad Richison Hope Lodge.

“This is a life-changing facility and it’s an honor to partner with the American Cancer Society to bring this community to the heart of Oklahoma City,” said Richison. “The Hope Lodge will make a difference in the lives of so many people facing cancer, ensuring they have one less thing to worry about.”

Conveniently located near the University of Oklahoma’s Stephenson Cancer Center, the Hope Lodge community boasts 34 private guest suites each with their own bath and all the comforts of home at no cost to the cancer patient and their caregiver. In addition, the facility features communal living areas, dining rooms, laundry facilities, a library, recreation room and outdoor garden. Free transportation to and from treatment centers is also included.

Meeting a local need

Each year, nearly 4,000 cancer patients travel at least 40 miles to Oklahoma City for potentially lifesaving treatment. Having access to free lodging is an essential part of beating cancer for those patients. 

When ACS opens the doors to the Chad Richison Hope Lodge this summer, the facility will be able to provide up to 12,410 nights of free lodging each year at full capacity, representing a savings of more than $1.5 million annually to cancer patients and their families (with the average nightly hotel rate in Oklahoma City costing approximately $125). It will also help to level the playing field when it comes to health disparities that exist for the state’s under-resourced populations, including rural and Indigenous communities. 

The Hope Lodge capital campaign was chaired by Chairman Scott Meacham and Chair Emeritus Gene Rainbolt. The University of Oklahoma has also been a valuable partner in bringing this community to Oklahoma City by providing the land and raising over a million dollars toward the capital campaign. Other major donors include the Presbyterian Health Foundation, Chickasaw Nation, Penny L. Norman Estate, E.L. and Thelma Gaylord Foundation, the J. E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation, Inc. and the Charles and Peggy Stephenson Foundation. 

This Oklahoma City facility join ACS' more than 30 Hope Lodge facilities nationwide. Since 1970, the American Cancer Society has provided more than 6 million nights of free lodging to patients across the country. 

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