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Howard County General Hospital Nurse Presents $70,000 to Claudia Mayer Center

COLUMBIA, Md. —Joan Clark, a nurse from Columbia, Md., received an invitation in the mail to attend a relative’s 70th birthday party, which claimed the senders would only accept one of three gifts for their birthdays: a luxury yacht, a private island, or recommendations for a donation to Clark’s favorite charity. The winning recommendation would receive $70,000 at the party.  Clark chose the third option and was presented a $70,000 check for the Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center (CMCRC) at Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine (HCGH).

The invitation came from Lynn and Foster Friess, Wyoming billionaires who made their fortune while founding and managing the Brandywine Mutual Fund, and are now using it to help hundreds of worthy causes world-wide through the Lynn and Foster Friess Family Foundation. 

Clark, an ICU nurse at HCGH, and a two-time cancer survivor, knew the perfect beneficiary: the Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center at HCGH. With the help of her fellow ICU nurses, including Ellen Merrill of Ellicott City, Clark submitted the Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center for recognition, lauding the Center as a remarkable place of hope, help and support for men, women and children living and coping with cancer. 

Merrill, a 2010 Nurse of the Year nominee, composed a poem written from the point of view of a cancer survivor, with the closing lines, “The Claudia Mayer Center is a gem; the fight would have been tougher without them.”

At the Friess’s birthday party, attendees who had submitted an organization for consideration received an envelope on a silver platter, which they were told to open simultaneously to learn who won the grand prize. The room exploded with excitement when they learned they were all grand prize winners. Friess had given $70,000 to each submitted charitable organization, bringing the total of the evening’s gifts to approximately $8 million.

“That the caring and dedication of the Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center staff prompted the nomination of the Center is very rewarding,” said Victor A. Broccolino, president and CEO of Howard County General Hospital. “We are gratified that one of our own nurses recognized the work of her peers based on her own experience with the services the Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center provides.”  

Clark’s cause has also been adopted by her son, Colin, who will be entering the University of Colorado at Boulder this fall as a Molecular Biology.  Calling his mom “his hero,” Colin said: “I want to find a cure for cancer.”

The Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center at Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine was founded in 1998 and provides support and assistance for cancer patients and their families and caregivers.  The Center has a resource library, a beauty salon, hair and skin products, wigs, prosthesis and offers an array of classes and support groups.  For more information on the Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center, visit