Jeff and Mindy Yowell make plans for exceptional gift

Jeff, Mindy and Jordan YowellJordan Yowell, 16, inherited a charming smile, an outgoing personality, a love of sports and a passion for the outdoors from her parents, Jeff and Mindy. Now, they hope to pass along another wonderful trait: a dedication to philanthropy.

The Yowells have made a generous planned gift to The University of Kansas Health System and included Jordan in the decision. Some parents may have felt uncomfortable having the "estate-planning talk" with their teen.

Not Jeff and Mindy.

"We're not shy about the fact that someday we'll be gone," Jeff said. "We're giving our daughter exposure to the decisions we're making and the reasons behind those decisions. We're excited to bring her into the picture."

The aha moment

When Jeff sold his company to an international marketing firm, creating a lasting charitable family legacy wasn't on his mind. It wasn't until he and Mindy started their estate-planning process that it occurred to them. "Our charitable donations had been all over the map," Mindy said. "We suddenly realized we were in a position to make a lasting impact through charitable giving."

The couple wanted more information before they determined the right beneficiary. Entrepreneur Jeff went to work to learn more. He became a member of The University of Kansas Health System's Advancement Board, which bolsters philanthropic efforts for education, research and patient care while deepening community and public support for academic medical care. He also joined the Cancer Funding Partners Council subcommittee.

"We learned so much," he said. "First, the leadership at the health system is strong. Second, collaboration between medical and academic perspectives makes a real difference. And finally, National Cancer Institute designation for The University of Kansas Cancer Center is so important — that distinction benefits people every day."

The Yowells were also inspired by those who had previously contributed. "The community leaders who support The University of Kansas Health System are people we look up to," said Jeff. "We have every confidence we're making the right decision."

The unrestricted nature of the gift reflects this confidence. The family entrusted the hospital's future leadership to use the funds where they are needed most at that time.

Personal experience

Jeff and Mindy's decision came from their hearts as well as their heads.

"My family has a history of cancer," said Mindy, who lost an uncle and grandfather to cancer and has had two aunts successfully treated for the disease. "Back then, people had to leave town to get cancer treatment. Today, we have family and friends receiving excellent care right at home at The University of Kansas Cancer Center. This is exactly where I would want to be if I had cancer."

While Jeff grew up in Kansas City, he spent a lot of time in rural communities and now owns large Kansas and Missouri farms reserved for farming, outdoor sports and conservation efforts. "Rural communities are close to my heart," he said.

That's why he and Mindy were troubled by a report explaining that people in rural areas are at greater risk for cancer, stroke, heart disease and chronic respiratory disease. They were encouraged that The University of Kansas Health System is working to slow this trend across Kansas with innovative initiatives such as the Kansas Heart and Stroke Collaborative, which works with rural providers to offer education, prevention and access to advanced healthcare. The collaborative was founded by The University of Kansas Health System.

The Yowells feel fortunate to have the means to leave a legacy for the city and region they care about. "We know the health system will be good stewards of our funds," said Mindy. "And we hope Jordan carries on in our footsteps."

To learn more about ways you, like the Yowells, can leave a legacy at The University of Kansas Health System, contact Courtney Johanning at cjohanning@kumc.edu or 913-588-2800.