Imagine a Man...who sees the possibilities



Denny Sanford is that man. And every step along his highly successful journey has led him to his goal: To make a positive difference for the human race.

Mr. Sanford’s determination and drive began when he was just a boy growing up in St. Paul, Minn., in the late 1930s. As a child from a working-class family during the post-Depression era, he quickly learned the importance and value of hard work.

Mr. Sanford also learned about loss at an early age. His mother, Edith, lost her battle with breast cancer before he even reached his 5th birthday.

Soon after, Mr. Sanford rolled up his sleeves and began helping in his father’s work-clothing distribution business by lifting boxes and folding garments. This was no ordinary young man, and he needed challenge and adventure in his life.

As a teenager, he was pounding the pavement, selling his father’s clothing. Mr. Sanford enjoyed the work, as it allowed him to interact with people. It also helped him realize he had an unconventional view on how to grow a business and cultivate success.

After completing his psychology degree at the University of Minnesota in 1958, Mr. Sanford moved back into the sales and marketing world. With his background, he excelled in this role and refined his skills.

And this was only the beginning for Mr. Sanford. His business savvy helped to launch a variety of successful businesses in the upper Midwest, including a major player in consumer credit and banking, First PREMIER Bank and PREMIER Bankcard in 1986.

In 1997, records showed Mr. Sanford to be worth $55 million. And by 2006, Forbes magazine placed his fortune at $2.5 billion and named him the 117th richest man in America.

Mr. Sanford’s hard work had paid off. And now it was time to give back. His philanthropic drive was spurred by a sense of responsibility and gratitude to the people who were an integral part of his good fortune.

Soon he began sharing his wealth on a grand scale through multi-million dollar gifts to a wide range of organizations across the country. In addition to Sanford Health, regional benefactors of his generosity have included: Children’s Home Society of South Dakota, the Sioux Empire United Way, the State of South Dakota’s Science and Technology Authority, University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University, and the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation.

In 2007, Mr. Sanford made history with a $400 million gift to Sanford Health—the largest donation ever to a health care organization. This remarkable action of our benefactor transformed the future of health care regionally, nationally and globally.

The gift is helping provide permanent health services to children and young families around the world, nutrition and fitness resources for children and parents and create research projects focused on finding a cure for type 1 diabetes and breast cancer.

Four years later, Mr. Sanford honored his late mother with a $100 million gift to launch Edith Sanford Breast Cancer. His generosity helped Sanford Health expand its medical research and clinical care specifically for breast cancer. The goal is to decode the genetic make-up of every woman and work to evaluate each woman’s risk, identify best treatments and ultimately eradicate breast cancer.

And still Mr. Sanford continued with his commitment, contributing to causes he believed in. In 2013, he donated a total of $130.5 million to various organizations, and made the list of the country’s 50 biggest donors for the year.

His most recent gift to Sanford Health will allow our patients to receive an unparalleled level of care right here in our community. At the beginning of 2014, he gave $125 million to establish Sanford Imagenetics, a revolutionary program that will integrate genetics and genomic medicine into primary care for all adults.

Mr. Sanford has now gifted nearly one billion dollars to Sanford Health, and more than $1 billion to health care and medical research efforts as a whole. And his determination to help improve the way we live is stronger than ever.

Mr. Sanford has made a name for himself in the world of business and philanthropy. Because of his generosity, Sanford Health has developed unique initiatives and continues to expand its footprint across the upper Midwest.

One man can make a difference – the kind of difference that can be felt by millions right now, and for many years to come.

Posted Date: August 2014