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Unicoi Co. couple give $1M for cancer center at JCMC

Staff Report • Jan 28, 2014 at 2:46 PM

A Unicoi County couple have given $1 million toward the Mountain States Health Alliance Foundation's $7 million campaign to fund a new radiation oncology center at Johnson City Medical Center.

Jim and Janet Ayers announced the gift at a recent event in Kingsport honoring former Mountain States CEO Dennis Vonderfecht.

“Jim and I are pleased to announce that we will make a $1 million contribution in your honor and in recognition of your retirement and your legacy, and for what you’ve done for Mountain States and the new cancer center,” Janet Ayers said to Vonderfecht during the celebration, which took place at MeadowView Conference Resort & Convention Center Jan. 9, according to an MSHA news release.

The Mountain States Foundation is amid a capital campaign to fund the new radiation oncology center. MSHA officials said the new center will provide state-of-the-art cancer-fighting technology as well as improved efficiency that will make scheduling and appointments more convenient for patients. To complete the project, the Mountain States Foundation needed to raise a total of $7 million.

“I want to thank Jim and Janet Ayers for this great gift,” Vonderfecht said. “We were about $3.5 million short in the Foundation’s capital campaign, and with this gift we’re closing the gap.”

Pat Holtsclaw, president of the Mountain States Foundation, expressed her gratitude for the Ayers’ donation and for the generosity of other local residents that will make the completed radiation oncology center a reality for the patients who need it most.

“The generosity of The Ayers will make a significant difference for years to come for cancer patients. Now with $2.5 million to go, we still need community support on this,” Holtsclaw said in the news release.

Jim Ayers is the sole shareholder of FirstBank, the largest independently owned bank in Tennessee. He created The Ayers Foundation in 1999 with a mission to improve the quality of life for the people of Tennessee with a special emphasis on Decatur, Henderson, Perry and Unicoi counties. The Ayers Foundation provides grants for scholarships, counselors, programs and related projects for educational enhancement, innovative health care and organizations dedicated to the preservation of natural resources and wildlife habitats for hunting and fishing.

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