Tom Towers was a dedicated family man, and a successful insurance broker who held a volunteer role on his local Hospital’s Foundation Board. He was known for his honesty and his integrity, and that endeared Tom to a great many people – perhaps more than he and his wife Christy realized. Because when Tom passed away in 2019 the local funeral home had never seen such a crowd.

Tom and his wife, Christy.

When Tom was diagnosed with kidney cancer early in 2011, he came under the care of urologist Dr. Anil Kapoor and oncologist Dr. Aly-Khan Lalani. While receiving care at the McMaster Institute of Urology at St. Joe’s, Tom learned more about the innovative robotic surgery and research programs at the Hospital, and often spoke about wanting to help kidney cancer patients in the future.

“I had a great deal of respect for Tom…as a family man; as a patient who was very educated and involved in creating his cancer care plan; and as someone who truly wanted to help others in their fight against kidney cancer,” says Dr. Kapoor. “I’m honoured by this generous gift and by the Towers’ faith in me and my colleagues. This gift will have a tremendous impact on the care we provide and the research we undertake at the UCCRI.”

These efforts started in earnest at Tom’s surprise 60th birthday party in 2013. Guests of the party raised $5,000 for a kidney cancer charity, but Tom wanted to do more—and he wanted to do something that would have an impact close to home.

So when Tom passed, Christy and her children let people know that in lieu of sending flowers, donations to St. Joseph’s Healthcare Foundation in support of the Hospital’s new Urologic Cancer Centre for Research and Innovation (UCCRI) would be deeply appreciated. The UCCRI brings physicians, surgeons, and research experts together so that patients living with kidney, bladder and prostate cancers have access to the best treatments and the newest clinical trial innovations.

Memorial donations made by friends, family, Tom’s sons Jeff and Matt, and the Grimsby community topped $10,000. Tom’s daughter Kate was so committed to fulfilling her dad’s wish, that her company, SoulKraft, matched every memorial donation made, bringing the tally to over $20,000. Christy knew how Tom would have felt about the UCCRI, so decided to donate another $20,000 from Tom’s estate to match the monies raised so far, meaning that the gift had grown to $40,000. However, here was one more donation still to come.

Local businessman and philanthropist Jim Bullock is also a patient of Dr. Kapoor’s. Though Tom and Jim had never met, when Jim heard about the Towers family’s efforts, he decided to match this ever-growing gift, bringing the grand total to more than $80,000 — all made in memory of Tom Towers, and all allocated to advancing kidney cancer care and research at St. Joe’s.

“I think Tom would’ve been pleased and even overwhelmed,” says Christy when reflecting on how things turned out. “He would’ve been proud that so many people joined him in supporting St. Joe’s UCCRI, and hopeful that those donations will help more patients just like him.”

November is Make a Will Month

Make a Will Month is an opportunity to help the public understand the importance of having a will and having it done by a lawyer. Learn more about the importance and impact a Will can have for your family, and the causes that are close to your heart at willpower.ca/charities/st-josephs-healthcare-foundation/