SURPRISE, ARIZ., July 29, 2016 – Lill and Ernie Mueller learned early on that hard work, grit and a little luck could be a ticket to a better life, a common dream in the Chicago working-class neighborhood where they grew up.
The tough row they hoed also planted seeds of generosity, which are now bearing fruit as they share their good fortune with others.
“We’ve always thought that helping people is the best thing you can do,” said Ernie, who at age five, began doing chores at a boarding house for coal miners run by his grandmother.
The Muellers have helped countless people in the Northwest Valley through contributions to Sun Health Foundation. Their most recent gift will benefit cancer patients at Banner Boswell Medical Center in Sun City.
Sun Health Foundation provides philanthropic support to Banner Boswell and Banner Del E. Webb medical centers and the Banner Sun Health Research Institute, as well as several community wellness programs offered by Sun Health.
At age 16, Ernie met Lill, then 14, at a roller skating rink and they eventually married and started a family. After years of working for others, they opened their own air conditioning and heating company in North Chicago, building it into a successful enterprise over 30 years, before selling it and retiring to Arizona.
The Muellers, married for 67 years, were smart with their money, yet also happy to share it with others in need. They passed these traits on to their son and daughter, now grown and success stories in their own right.
The oncology gift has personal meaning for Lill who was diagnosed with breast cancer more than 10 years ago. She had surgery and radiation treatments and knows how tough it can be for patients and their families.
Earlier this month, Sun Health Foundation staff members hosted a reception for the Muellers at the Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center radiation oncology facility on the Banner Boswell campus. The Muellers toured the facility, including the high-tech treatment room. An honorary wall plaque outside the room bears Lill’s name.
“It’s a miracle we have this facility,” Lill said. “Think of all the people this is helping.”
Over the past 16 years, the Muellers have made several major gifts to Sun Health Foundation in support of numerous health care programs and services.
“Lill and Ernie’s generosity is remarkable and it’s helped countless people lead healthier and fuller lives,” said Sharon Thornton, chief philanthropy officer for Sun Health Foundation.
About Sun Health
A long-standing champion of healthy living and superior health care, Sun Health is a community-based nonprofit providing pathways to population health through philanthropy, senior living programs and communities, and community wellness programs and services. Sun Health Foundation donors have supported superior health care in the West Valley for nearly 50 years. The foundation is the philanthropic partner to Banner Boswell and Banner Del E. Webb medical centers and the Banner Sun Health Research Institute, as well as community wellness programs provided by Sun Health.