Helena Theurer, Devoted Friend and Benefactor of Hackensack Meridian Health, Receives the 2021 Pontifical Hero Award for Inspiration After Nomination By CEO Robert C. Garrett

June 7, 2021

Helena Theurer

Helena Theurer, friend and dedicated supporter of Hackensack Meridian Health, was awarded the 2021 Pontifical Hero Award from the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Cura Foundation at their Fifth International Vatican Conference, held virtually from May 6 – 8, 2021, after being nominated by Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health.

The conference, originally scheduled to take place at the Aula Nuova Del Sinodo in Vatican City, united the foremost leading physicians, scientists, leaders of faith, ethicists, patient advocates, policymakers, philanthropists and influencers to engage in powerful conversations on the latest breakthroughs in medicine, health care delivery and prevention, as well as the anthropological scientific and cultural impact of technological advances.

The Pontifical Hero Award for Inspiration honors individuals who – through their generosity, compassion, wisdom and leadership – have inspired hope. Those who receive the distinguished honor have worked tirelessly to improve human health and increase the quality of life around the world. The Pontifical Council for Culture and the Cura Foundation awarded Theurer the 2021 Pontifical Hero Award for Inspiration in recognition of her generous philanthropy and unwavering dedication to the collective fight against cancer.

“I was honored to nominate Helena, our beloved friend of many years, for the 2021 Pontifical Hero Award for Inspiration,” said Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, CEO, Hackensack Meridian Health. “Throughout the years, Helena has embraced our shared responsibility to the patients and communities who depend on Hackensack Meridian Health, and her support has allowed us to transform cancer care in New Jersey and beyond. We are grateful for Helena’s friendship and support, and I congratulate her on receiving this well-deserved award.”

Theurer, the only woman to receive the Pontifical Hero Award for Inspiration this year, joins other motivational leaders in receiving the distinct honor, including:

  • Stéphane Bancel, for leadership and steadfast dedication to protecting all humanity;
  • Max Gomez, Ph.D., for educating the public, leading by example and providing hope to millions;
  • Emmanuel “Manny” Ohonme, for providing hope to millions of children around the world;
  • Frank J. Sasinowski, J.D., MPH, for his unwavering advocacy for those with rare diseases;
  • Stephen Shaya, M.D., for promoting social change through commitment and work to improve human health and preserve the environment; and
  • Andrew C.  von Eschenbach, M.D., for leadership in bridging the gap between science and faith.

“I thank the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Cura Foundation for this wonderful award,” said Theurer. “I am very honored to be nominated by Mr. Garrett and to receive the 2021 Pontifical Hero Award for Inspiration. I feel very blessed that I can do what I can do, and I hope to continue for many years. I am very much inspired by Hackensack University Medical Center and John Theurer Cancer Center, as well as Mr. Garrett, Dr. Andre Goy and their teams. They do great work in fighting cancer, and I am so glad to be a part of it.”

In 2008, Theurer made a leadership gift of $10 million to establish Hackensack Meridian John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack Meridian Hackensack University Medical Center, named in tribute to her late husband, John. Last year, she generously gifted $25 million, the largest gift received in the network’s history, to Hackensack University Medical Center to further advance cancer research and transform clinical care at John Theurer Cancer Center, led by Andre Goy, M.D., chairman and chief physician officer,  John Theurer Cancer Center, and physician in chief, Oncology Care Transformation Service, Hackensack Meridian Health.

In honor of her generous philanthropy, Hackensack University Medical Center dedicated and named its newest building on its campus, the Helena Theurer Pavilion. The Helena Theurer Pavilion is scheduled to be completed in fall of 2022.

To support the Helena Theurer Pavilion or to make a gift with thanks and recognition in honor of Helena Theurer, please click here or contact Clare Ward, interim executive director, Hackensack University Medical Center Foundation, at clare.ward@hmhn.org.