History of Josh’s Fund

josh gottheil profileThe Josh Gottheil Memorial Fund for Lymphoma Research was established in 1994 to honor the memory of Josh Gottheil, who died from lymphoma on April 4, 1989. Josh’s death came four months after he received a bone marrow transplant at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, where he had put up a heroic struggle to beat the disease and the aftermath of the treatment. Josh’s Fund was originally dedicated to supporting oncology nurses who work with patients in bone marrow transplantation. More recently, Josh’s Fund recognized the focus of oncology, including treatment for lymphoma, is now on stem cell transplantation. The fund remains dedicated to supporting all transplant nurses in recognition of the crucial role these professionals play in patient care.

Despite his young age, Josh had been a promoter in the rock music business and often became friendly with members of bands that he brought to perform in his home community, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. A number of bands, deeply moved by his struggle and his death, stepped up to perform benefit concerts in his memory. The funds raised from these events and many other donations from friends and family in Josh’s memory in the few years after he died were directed to the Leukemia Society of America to support the many crucial goals of that organization.

Josh's Fundraisers
Students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign volunteered to raise funds at U of I football tailgate gatherings from 1994 to 2009.

Josh’s family wanted to honor his memory with a charitable foundation that bore his name and that would be dedicated to the fight against lymphoma. At first it was thought that supporting research in this disease would be the goal and thus Josh’s Fund received its name. Realizing that basic biomedical research is a multi-million dollar enterprise, most appropriately funded by major public and private foundations such as the National Institutes of Health and the American Cancer Society, the Gottheil family looked for a direct service goal for Josh’s Fund. It was then that they thought about the nurses that had cared for him at Barnes Hospital. They and the thousands of oncology nurses across the country work tirelessly to provide the treatments and care that seriously ill patients undergoing bone marrow or stem cell transplantation require.

Similar to bone marrow transplantation, itself a pioneering treatment for life-threatening forms of cancer when less invasive treatments have failed, stem cell transplantation is a procedure that restores blood-forming cells in patients who have had theirs destroyed by the high dose of chemotherapy and/or radiation used to destroy cancer cells in certain types of cancers. Because recovery is often long and may involve many setbacks nurses who care for transplant patients have special training and must be highly skilled. They must also be highly dedicated because the work is so very demanding. The bone marrow transplant nurses who cared for Josh did so with untiring attention and compassion and their knowledge base was vast. Transplant nurses everywhere deserve recognition and appreciation for their professional ability and the work they do. Josh’s Fund is dedicated to support for these vitally important health care professionals.

Oncology Nursing Foundation

In 1993 the Gottheil family contacted the Oncology Nursing Society in Pittsburgh, PA  to identify a way to provide support to nurses through its Foundation. This led to the establishment of the Josh Gottheil Memorial Bone Marrow Transplant Career Development Award. Read more about the award here.

The growth of Josh’s Fund enabled it to provide two grants to support resiliency programs for nurses. The first, in 2018, to the Siteman Cancer Center/Barnes’Jewish Hospital at Washington University in St. Louis, MO, and the second, in 2021, at Carle Health centered in Urbana IL.  Read more about resiliency support here.