Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones Donates $1 Million to Hope Lodge Houston Project

We all know the football rivalry between Houston and Dallas is fierce. Just ask any of the several dozen people who got into parking lot brawls at then-Reliant Stadium back in 2010. (Brawls so fierce with participants so random that they officially made tailgating a "must have ticket or wristband" activity after that game.)

Indeed, sports hate between Dallas and Houston is strong. However, the one thing that cannot be severed by the vitriol between two Texas cities is the fraternity of NFL ownership. Billionaires with a common purpose are a powerful force, and make no mistake — Jerry Jones and Bob McNair are billionaires with a purpose.

McNair and his wife, Janice, through their charitable foundation, have been one of the driving forces in trying to get a Hope Lodge built here near the Medical Center. For those who don't know about the Hope Lodge concept, think Ronald McDonald for families of cancer patients, where those families have a place to stay free of charge so they can be near ailing loved ones. 

On Tuesday, it was announced that Jones's charitable foundation would be making a donation of $1 million, the largest gift to date in helping commence construction on the new facility. 

“Cancer is already daunting enough, but worrying about travel, lodging and other necessities while enduring treatment can be a huge burden,” Jones said. “Gene and I are proud we can help by joining Bob and Janice McNair and President George and Barbara Bush as they work to bring a Hope Lodge to Houston.”

“We are grateful to our friends, Gene and Jerry Jones, for recognizing the need and helping us reach our campaign goal this year,” Bob McNair said. “By coming together and supporting a project like Hope Lodge Houston, we are able to make a greater impact for deserving cancer patients.”

This is a cause near and dear to the McNairs' hearts, stemming in part from Bob McNair's battle with squamous cell carcinoma in 2014. McNair was treated at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and was recently given a clean bill of health. 

Currently, there are 31 Hope Lodges run by the American Cancer Society nationwide. One of the world's focal points for cancer treatment,  Houston will have the largest Hope Lodge in the nation with 62 patient suites. At capacity, the Lodge will offer approximately 23,000 nights of lodging per year, and save patients nearly $2 million combined annually.

The McNairs have extended the challenge to Houstonians and donators worldwide, committing one dollar for every two donated between now and December 31, 2015, up to $4 million. 

(To donate or learn more about the Hope Lodge Houston campaign, you can visit their website, or you contact Sandy Biggers at sandy.biggers@cancer.org.)

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast.

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