Jim and Nancy O’Neal: A Bequest Sparked by Gratitude and Hope

Jim O'Neal retired as president and CEO of Frito-Lay International in 2001. Instead of practicing his golf swing, he found himself battling a life-threatening disease: prostate cancer.

After exhaustive research about his medical options, O'Neal came to the Brady Urological Institute under the care of Dr. Patrick C. Walsh—a choice that he says saved his life. Five years later, O'Neal's cancer is cured, and, in hopes of helping researchers eradicate the disease, he and his wife, Nancy, have made a $5 million bequest intention to The Patrick C. Walsh Prostate Cancer Research Fund.

Jim O'Neal shares his story of recovery, gratitude, and hope.

"Everyone remembers where they were on 9/11. I sat in a recliner at Baltimore's Harbor Court Hotel, recuperating from a radical prostatectomy, when I tuned into CNN and watched a national tragedy play out on television.

"As we prepared for our return to Dallas, Nancy and I grappled with elation over my successful operation and horror over the national trauma that challenged both individual citizens and our entire country in unprecedented ways.

"Now, five years later, Nancy and I are counting our blessings. My prostate cancer has been cured, and there have been no more direct attacks on our country. How could we possibly express our sincere gratitude for this rather remarkable situation?

"For us, it was easy. Johns Hopkins saved my life. We could hardly put a price on our appreciation, but we knew we could help the scientists and physicians dedicated to stamping out this insidious disease by promising part of our estate to the research fund named for Dr. Walsh.

"We revised our estate plan in a creative way that will ensure our future financial needs are met while concurrently providing critical support to existing research efforts. Ultimately, the residual of our combined estate will flow to Johns Hopkins—supporting the work that, hopefully, will lead to earlier detection of prostate cancer and, one day, a cure.

"As we were on Sept. 11, 2001, Nancy and I today are full of thanks and hope, this time for the opportunity to leverage our personal good fortune through the exceptional work of Johns Hopkins."

Gift vehicles used: Charitable gift annuity and annual gifts

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