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Revolutionary man. Extraordinary gifts.

T. Denny Sanford

One person can make a difference. The kind of difference that improves lives not only here at home, but around the world.

As the country’s preeminent health care philanthropist, Denny Sanford has given close to $1 billion to Sanford Health in less than two decades. His generosity has spanned across almost every area of care including children’s health, research, breast health and genetics.

Denny had humble beginnings, growing up with his family on the poor side of Minneapolis. However, tragedy struck early in Denny’s life with the death of his mother, Edith, from breast cancer. This moment would stay with Denny throughout his life and became a major catalyst for his philanthropy. He wanted to make sure no other child would grow up without the love of a mother.

After graduating from the University of Minnesota, Denny’s business side began to shine through. He started his own company, which quickly became hugely successful and allowed Denny to retire at the age of 45. However, a few years later he was back in the game with the purchase of a struggling bank in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Again, Denny’s business acumen paid off. Within months, the new First PREMIER Bank and PREMIER Bankcard had millions of cardholders and grew from 80 employees to 3,000.

Now a major staple in the Sioux Falls community, Denny began to form a relationship with the hospital that would one day take his name. This connection would spark an unprecedented string of gifts, leading to the creation of the Sanford Initiatives and putting Sanford Health on a course of discovery, growth and innovation.

2004 – Sanford Children’s Hospital

Denny gives $16 million for the creation of a freestanding children’s hospital in Sioux Falls. Dubbed the Castle of Care, the Sanford Children’s Hospital is now home to more than 140 pediatric experts in 31 specialty areas.

2007 – The Gift

The vision to conquer a number of pressing health issues spurs Denny to donate $400 million. This remains the single largest private donation to a health system in the U.S. It was the catalyst for the creation of the first Sanford Initiatives.

Sanford World Clinic

Sanford has one of the largest primary care presences in international countries by a U.S. health system with 25 clinics across four continents. 

Sanford Research

Sanford’s robust research program includes more than 200 researchers conducting studies and trials in six broad areas.

The Sanford Project

Sanford has made a commitment to cure type 1 diabetes in Denny’s lifetime. The world’s leading expert in cellular therapy is driving the program where we have launched a groundbreaking immunotherapy trial for those newly diagnosed.  

The Health Care Campus of the Future

Sanford is dedicated to bringing the latest in technology and advancing the state of care throughout our footprint. We are committed to ensuring every location is equipped with the facilities it needs to deliver the care patients deserve.


The four Sanford fit websites and multiple apps are geared to teach kids fun and interactive ways to stay healthy. These have been visited by millions of users. 

2011 – Edith Sanford Breast Center

Denny was able to provide for the future of breast health and honor his mother with a $100 million donation that started the Edith Sanford Breast Cancer initiative. It provides for in depth research into breast cancer and brings the most advanced technology and programs to care for women’s breast health.

2014 – Imagenetics

With a $125 million gift from Denny, Sanford started the groundbreaking Imagenetics program. This was the first model in the country to integrate genomics into primary care, helping to better predict and prevent disease.  

But Mr. Sanford isn’t done yet. His commitment to ongoing philanthropic efforts continues, and is stronger than ever. Through his amazing generosity, he is helping Sanford Health improve the human condition around the globe. Sanford Health is deeply grateful for his vision, dedication and – most especially – his friendship.