Sixers owner Josh Harris, co-owner David Blitzer, president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, general manager Elton Brand, head coach Doc Rivers and CEO Tad Brown have collaborated to spearhead a $75,000 donation to Jefferson Health’s Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center.
The donation was inspired by the treatment Sixers assistant coach Dave Joerger received at the National Cancer Institute-designated center after he was diagnosed with head and neck cancer in October. Joerger went through seven weeks of radiation and chemotherapy and returned to the Sixers in early February.
“This gift sends a powerful message to every Philadelphian to never stop fighting, to never give up hope,” Dr. David M. Cognetti, chair of Jefferson Health’s Department of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery, said in a release. “We are happy that Coach Joerger has returned to the bench, and we are incredibly grateful to the 76ers for their commitment to our community.”
The funds will be used to expand Jefferson Health’s early-detection, screening and educational programming for “underserved communities that desperately need it,” according to a news release.
The center estimates that the Sixers’ gift will cover mobile screening — provided by a unit on wheels that can go directly into neighborhoods — for more than 1,200 people at events that may not otherwise be easily accessible. The donation will also support head and neck cancer research, along with the expansion of data analytic capabilities to further focus on risk factors and health disparities to help improve early-detection efforts, the release said. Referrals to additional cancer-center resources, such as smoking cessation programs, will also be provided free of charge to those at mobile screening events.
“I am grateful to Dr. David M. Cognetti, Dr. Voichita Bar-Ad, Dr. Jennifer Johnson and the world-class medical team at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center — Jefferson Health for their support over the last few months as I battled head and neck cancer,” Joerger said in a release. “Their work reinforced to me the importance of providing our community with access to cancer early detection, screening, and educational opportunities. I am humbled and thankful to the 76ers organization for not only supporting me during my fight, but for making an impactful donation that will help those in our community who need it most.”
In 2021, Jefferson Health launched the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center and Dietz & Watson Mobile Cancer Screening Unit for those with limited transportation options and/or those who live in underserved communities with a sizable population of immigrants or limited English speakers. In addition to detecting head and neck cancer, the unit also possesses the latest imaging technology to detect breast cancer, prostate cancer, and melanomas.