It was 1962 in Southern California, and Jon and Karen Huntsman were a young couple with a tiny toddler, the first of nine children, and another child on the way. Jon's success in business largely lay ahead, and Karen told friends her dream at the time was "to get a kitchen table large enough that we could all fit around.”
Then word came that Jon's mother had cancer, a kind that would eventually take her life. It was then that Jon told Karen he wanted to start his own business so he could make a difference for people with the disease.
From modest beginnings – Jon started a small entrepreneurial business, where he pioneered innovations in packaging. His interests grew to include petrochemical products, and in 1982 Huntsman Corporation was born. Today, Huntsman Corp. has nearly 14,000 employees with operations in 42 countries. In July, the company announced it had signed an agreement to be acquired by the private equity firm Apollo Management LP in a deal valued at about $10.6 billion. At the time the sale was announced, Jon reiterated the sentiment he voiced in 1962: his main desire is to use his resources to fight human suffering.
Over his lifetime, Jon has contributed more than $500 million to the homeless, ill, and underprivileged and, earlier this year, he donated an additional $725 million worth of corporate public stock to his charitable foundation. He and Karen are the founders and principal benefactors of the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah, the only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center in the Intermountain West.
In 2004, the Institute formed an alliance with Intermountain Healthcare, allowing for data sharing for research, the development and implementation of best practice standards, and the launch of multidisciplinary clinics at several Intermountain facilities.
The Jon and Karen Huntsman Cancer Center at Intermountain Medical Center is a continuation of that partnership and another step in the fight against cancer. Thanks to the Huntsman's generous donation, the three-story center will provide patients with comprehensive, multi-disciplinary care, access to the most advanced technological resources and the opportunity to participate in needed, valuable research.
"Some day, somehow, we will end this cursed disease," says Jon. "We have to. We must. This center is dedicated to improving the quality of care and expanding the treatment options for Utah cancer patients and their families, and we are proud to be a part of this state-of-the-art medical enterprise."