Philanthropist on a mission to help others turns $150,000 into $20 million effort to fight disease at UCI MIND
Keith Swayne has a magic touch when it comes to fundraising.
“I guess I could go to anyone and get them to write some kind of check just so I would go away,” he says, laughing. “However, that’s not what I want to accomplish. I want to connect people to causes and needs that they can relate to and then help them find a way to help out.”
Swayne is so adroit at soliciting donations, in fact, that a campus project he undertook has left people shaking their heads in amazement: His efforts led to a $20 million windfall for investigators at the UCI Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders.
“Keith’s passionate commitment to supporting our research has been tireless and nothing short of transformative,” says Joshua Grill, director of UCI MIND.
It all started with a $150,000 gift the Laguna Beach philanthropist made to the research facility in honor of his late wife, Judy, whom he lost to Alzheimer’s disease in 2014. He also issued a challenge to the community at the time that boosted the donation to $300,000.
The UCI MIND team then leveraged that seed money to secure a total of $20 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health.
“Our research is blazing new trails into understanding the genetic, molecular and cellular underpinnings of disease and is poised to lead to identification of new treatment targets and candidates,” Grill says. “Keith’s initial challenge-gift enabled an exponential impact in terms of research support.”