Safeway campaign leads to more than $1 million for CU Cancer Center

By Lynn Clark
By Staff

Safeway's Eric Holmes, Debbie Portwood and Kris Staaf gave a big check to Dr. Anthony Elias and Strode Weaver.

A $350,000 gift from Safeway Inc. will fund breast cancer research at the University of Colorado Cancer Center, bringing total donations from the grocer to more than $1 million since 2008.

The donation comes from Safeway's October 2010 "round up your purchase" campaign at stores in five states, which raised $650,000.

Anthony Elias, M.D., head of the CU Cancer Center breast cancer program at University of Colorado Hospital, said the Safeway donations have been used toward three critical elements: support for high-priority clinical trials aimed at personalized treatment of breast cancer, support for the center's breast tissue biorepository, which provides study materials that help ensure scientific discoveries are relevant to humans, and support for small grants designed to obtain preliminary data to support a larger grant.

"These seed grants have been highly successful," said Elias, professor of medical oncology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. "The recipients of the first seven grants made with Safeway donations have now leveraged those smaller amounts into five major grants. We just awarded a second round of seed grants. We are currently recruiting a senior breast cancer scientist to strengthen our breast cancer effort."

Kris Staaf, Safeway director of public affairs, called the effort a great collaboration between the community, Safeway and the center.

"Thanks to the generosity of our customers and employees, we can make a difference in the fight against breast cancer," she said. "We are grateful and humbled by the extraordinary outpouring of support for a cause that impacts so many women and families. The Safeway grants fund groundbreaking research, and we are fortunate to have partners like Dr. Elias and his team at the University of Colorado Cancer Center."