The following story ran in the August 2017 Lettermen's Newsletter. Follow this link for a recent video featuring Danny Talbott touring the new cancer center.
Administrators at Nash UNC Health Care in Rocky Mount had planned for several years to build a multi-disciplinary cancer treatment center that could serve northeastern North Carolina. Earlier this year, they were brainstorming ideas to raise funds and target potential benefactors when the name Danny Talbott came up for discussion.
Danny Talbott: Hometown hero, threesport standout at Rocky Mount High in the early 1960s who went on to star as quarterback for the Tar Heels ... and a seven-year survivor of multiple myeloma, a form of cancer that attacks plasma blood cells in the bone marrow.
“Danny is a community celebrity, people look up to him and he has been a mentor to so many people here,” says Stacy S. Jesso, vice president, chief development officer for the Nash Health Care Foundation. “He's a cancer survivor. We wanted him to be part of this cancer center, but we weren't sure in what capacity.”
During one meeting, one of the steering committee members said, “Why don't we just name the center for Danny?” “We all looked at each other and said, ‘What a great idea,'” Jesso says. “It grew from there.”
Today construction is underway for the Danny Talbott Cancer Center with the Nash UNC complex off U.S. Hwy 64 just north of town. The new and expanded space, expected to open in January 2018, is 16,100 square feet with additional space for expansion in the future. In addition to a newer, brighter environment and more convenience for patients, all current services—radiation and infusion (chemotherapy) treatments along with supporting navigation, nutrition, and social work services—will be offered in one building.
“It's the greatest honor I've ever received,” says Talbott, a Letterman from 1964-66 and All-ACC quarterback in 1965. “I've never been so surprised in my life. It's too hard to believe they would think enough of me and want to name a cancer center after me. It's hard to put into words, it's just amazing. I look forward to what the center will do in this part of North Carolina and maybe even Virginia. I can't express enough what I think it's going to do for this part of North Carolina.”
Nash UNC Health Care launched the fundraising campaign for the facility on October 10th. This date represents the tenth month and tenth day, in honor of Talbott's jersey No. 10. “It's important to make this a grassroots campaign and encourage everyone in the community and beyond to support Danny as well as a great cancer program,” says Jesso. “For a cancer patient, you truly need a great team, and this will be a multidisciplinary clinic where you can go and see all your team in one place. From gifts of $10 and up, every donation will help.”
Marion Barnes of Rocky Mount is a contemporary of Talbott's and a Tar Heel Letterman as well (1966). He's also a cancer survivor and has made multiple visits to the UNC Lineberger Cancer Center in Chapel Hill. “Danny is most deserving, I think this is very appropriate,” says Barnes. “He's been fighting this multiple myeloma into his seventh year. Not many people fight it that long. His story is a great inspiration for so many people.”
Jesso recounts the comment from one hospital official at a function in May when the campaign was announced. “The board chairman for the hospital summed it up when he said, ‘It's so refreshing to put a name on a building not because of a big check they wrote but because he's an all-around good guy,'” she says. The project entails a $7 million goal to build the center and $3 million in seed funding to create an endowment for the center.
Tar Heel Lettermen of all eras and Talbott's teammates in particular are encouraged to help make the Danny Talbott Cancer Center a reality. Please send tax-deductible contributions to Nash Health Care Foundation, 2416 Professional Drive, Rocky Mount, NC 27804, visit our website www.nashhealthcarefoundation. org, or contact Stacy Jesso, 252-962-8584, or firstname.lastname@example.org.