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South Florida Couple Uses Injury as a Catalyst for Change

For Dave and Hilary Gershman, access to health care is something they will never take for granted, particularly since Dave was injured after he was hit by a large landscape truck while walking almost two years ago.

Dave and Hilary Gershman
Dave and Hilary Gershman

“We felt really grateful and fortunate, and you don’t often feel that way when something bad happens to you,” Hilary Gershman said. “But the University of Miami Health System physicians were right there to help get us immediate access to excellent health care. We felt very lucky.”

The Pinecrest couple has decided to pay that gratitude forward by making a $1 million gift to benefit the research of the physicians who helped them, but also to help those who are not as fortunate gain better access to health care here in Miami.

“We’ve always known Miami is a city of extremes, with plenty of people who have no access to health care,” Gershman said. “We wanted to do something to help change that dynamic.”

The majority of the gift will be used to create the Sylvester Community Outreach and Engagement Fund at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, a part of UHealth – University of Miami Health System. The fund will support health equity initiatives across Sylvester, including Sylvester’s Game Changer Vehicle, which brings cancer screenings and health information to underserved communities across South Florida.

“Early cancer detection is crucial to better outcomes, and our Game Changer Vehicle helps us reach people where they are in the community so we can positively impact their health,” said Stephen Nimer, M.D., director of Sylvester, executive dean for research, Oscar de la Renta Endowed Chair in Cancer Research and professor of medicine, biochemistry and molecular biology at the Miller School. “The gift from Hilary and Dave Gershman will also go toward funding culturally tailored, evidence-based cancer education for diverse communities across the region.”

The fund will assist the work of Erin Kobetz, Ph.D., M.P.H., associate director of population sciences and cancer disparity at Sylvester, the John K. and Judy H. Schulte Senior Endowed Chair in Cancer Research and vice provost for research and scholarship at the University of Miami.

“Our hope is that in some small way, our gift can help Dr. Kobetz realize her goals of bringing health care to underserved communities,” says Hilary.  “She’s special in the way she thinks and wants to get things done.”

“I’m grateful for Hilary and Dave’s generosity and vision,” said Dr. Kobetz. “Their investment will help close gaps in health care access and provide an opportunity for the most vulnerable in our South Florida community.”

The gift from the Gershmans is also benefiting the research of Michael Peleg, D.M.D., chief of the Division of Oral Maxillofacial Surgery in the DeWitt Daughtry Family Department of Surgery, and David J. Arnold, M.D., chief of the Division of Head and Neck Surgery in the Department of Otolaryngology. Both physicians were instrumental in Dave Gershman’s care following his accident.

“Without these two doctors, Dave would not have made the full recovery that he enjoys today,” says Gershman. “We are eternally grateful to the University of Miami.”

Tags: Dave Gershman, Dr. David Arnold, Dr. Erin Kobetz, Dr. Michael Peleg, Dr. Stephen D. Nimer, Dr. Stephen Nimer, Game Changer, Hilary Gershman, philanthropy, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center