Yale Daily News

The Lovemark Foundation announced a donation of $100,000 to the Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital on Nov. 15. The Foundation gave the same amount in 2017 following its inaugural charity golf tournament.

The Lovemark Foundation was established by professional golfer Jamie Lovemark and his wife, Tiva. The nonprofit uses its funds to support brain cancer patients and their families, emotionally and financially, during the treatment process. Through a partnership with Yale New Haven Hospital, the funds will be allocated to both cancer patients and their families in need of financial support. The hospital’s neurosurgery department and social work oncology team determine the recipients of the funds, according to Tiva Lovemark.

“We used every cent of the money last year. As per the donors’ request, we were able to help about 40 patients with brain tumors,” said Jennifer Moliterno, chief of neurosurgical oncology at Yale Cancer Center and chair of the Lovemark Fund Committee. “Not based on financial need per se but rather the need for funds due to the burdens a diagnosis of a brain tumor can place on people and their families. We have paid mortgages, built wheelchair ramps, paid electric bills and helped so significant others can take time off.”

Tiva Lovemark said that her own experiences inspired her to establish the Lovemark Foundation. In 2006, while she was a freshman in high school, Lovemark was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor. Although she never underwent surgery or chemotherapy, Lovemark said that she spent a large amount of time in the oncology unit at Yale New Haven Hospital.

Wanting to give back to the brain cancer community, Lovemark decided to found the charity with her husband, Jamie. The Lovemark Foundation’s primary fundraiser is an annual golf tournament in June. Jamie Lovemark, a professional golfer on the PGA Tour, helps to recruit friends and fellow golfers to participate in the charity tournament, according to Lovemark.

As chair of the Lovemark Fund Committee, Moliterno is in charge of the donations given to the hospital. Moliterno explained that the committee reviews all patient applications to determine how much each patient should be awarded. The committee typically awards between $1000 and $5000 per patient. Some funds are also used to help patients travel to the Yale New Haven Hospital, since the hospital is the premier brain tumor program in the state, according to Moliterno.

Lovemark says that she and her husband knew exactly what type of patient they wanted their funds to help when they started the foundation.

“We wanted to give back to middle-class hardworking people who can’t afford to pay bills due to medical costs,” Lovemark said. “I’ve been helped out in the past, and I wanted to give back. There’s never a good time to be diagnosed.”

Alison Marcinek, a senior development officer at the hospital who manages major gifts for oncology, said that it’s “humbling” for the hospital to receive gifts from former patients as a result of outstanding patient care. She added that the Lovemarks have had a measurable impact on this specific brain cancer patient population.

Lovemark said that she plans to continue raising funds for the hospital and hopes to raise more money in the coming years.

Smilow Cancer Hospital treats more cancer patients than any other hospital in Connecticut, according to the Yale New Haven Hospital website.

Madison Mahoney | madison.mahoney@yale.edu