John and Marty Engquist have a passion for helping pediatric cancer patients, and this passion will now be highlighted with their gift to the new freestanding Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital. The Engquist family has donated $1.5 million to the hematology and oncology floor of the new hospital to help continue care for children across Louisiana with cancer and blood disorders.
The chief executive officer of H&E Equipment Services, Inc., John Engquist developed a special relationship with a childhood cancer patient many years ago after an employee asked if the child could fish on his property. The Engquists extended an invitation to the child, and seeing the joy it brought to him inspired Engquist to start the Dream Day Foundation. This non-profit organization hosts the Fishin’ Galore event, in which St. Jude patients are invited to the Clinton, La., property for a day featuring fishing, games and food.
“What started out as one family has grown to more than 150 that come for one day each year from all over the country for this experience,” said Engquist. “This day is all about the patients and the hope that for at least one day they can focus on something other than their diagnosis and all of their treatments."
Engquist has supported St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for more than 25 years, including serving as a former member of its board of directors. The St. Jude Baton Rouge Affiliate Clinic at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health is one of only eight St. Jude affiliates in the country. When the new freestanding children’s hospital opens in 2019, all inpatient and outpatient hematology and oncology services will be housed on the same floor - a very unique model for this type of care.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Our Lady of the Lake and the care that they provide to kids,” Engquist said. “And their relationship with St. Jude makes this a very meaningful gift for me. This hospital will provide not only pediatric cancer patients but all children better care and better access to healthcare, and I want to be a part of that.”
The Engquist family gift brings Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital to more than $46 million of its initial fundraising goal of $50 million for the Let’s Build Amazing Capital Campaign.
“For more than a quarter of a century, John and Marty Engquist have given extraordinary amounts of their time and the gifts they have been blessed with to help some of the most vulnerable children in our society,” said Our Lady of the Lake Foundation Executive Director Kelly Hurtado. “Much like the mission of our Franciscan sisters, their support and love for children facing the arduous battle with cancer is strong and unwavering. We are very fortunate to have the Engquist family in our community and we greatly appreciate their most generous gift to our new children’s hospital.”
The freestanding Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital is set to open in October 2019.