Vikings VP Kevin Warren donates $1 million of his own money to families of cancer patients

Today, Kevin Warren, Vikings executive vice president and team lawyer, was honored at the University of Minnesota's Masonic Children's Hospital for donating $1 million of his family's money to families of kids who have cancer.

Warren's sister, Carolyn Elaine Warren-Knox, died of brain cancer in October, and Kevin tells Fox 9 that while she was ill, he flew to Phoenix every two weeks or so to spend time with her.

"One conversation I had with her in the summer really struck me," Warren says. "She said, 'I'm really fortunate to have a husband and kids, brothers and sisters'... she went on to share that a couple times there were people she would talk with who didn't have that same support."

"They'd have to take a bus to the doctor or wait for two hours after treatment while they're not feeling well for somebody to pick them up," he continues. "That's where the idea came from -- just providing people with the same resources she benefited from."

The money Warren and his wife Greta donated to the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital established "Carolyn's Comforts," a children's cancer emergency assistance fund designed to help families manage the difficulties that come with cancer diagnoses.

The fund is already in use. Warren says during today's ceremony he was approached by a social worker who told him she had gotten a call from a family in a neighboring state who wasn't able to purchase airline tickets to visit a cancer-stricken relative until they received some help from Carolyn's Comforts.

"That's what it's all about," Warren says. "People with cancer -- this is real time, they have today and they need an answer today... I think once word gets out within the cancer community at the U of M, that'll help even more."

U of M social workers will make day-to-day decisions about how to distribute funds, Warren says.

"Social workers are right there at the hospital, fighting in the trenches," he continues.

Warren says the long-term vision is for Carolyn's Comforts to grow to be something akin to The V Foundation set up in honor of Jim Valvano or the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation.

Of course, $1 million is a lot of money even for a Vikings VP, and Warren acknowledges donating so much involves sacrifices for his family. But he says he wanted to make sure his donation would have a major impact.

"One dollar makes a difference, [but] I did a lot of research on personal grants and one of the numbers that came up over and over again was $1 million," Warren says. "It's a lot of money, but it's really important to carry her legacy forward. I thought that was a really good starting point."

Asked why he chose the University of Minnesota's Masonic Children's Hospital, Warren, who is in his 10th year with the Vikings, says, "I wanted to make sure we did something in the state of Minnesota, and [Masonic] is the preeminent children's hospital."
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