Meet the Lueken Family: Giving For Good In Bemidji

Janice Lueken knows the importance of having world-class health care available close to home.

After navigating health issues from the late 1990s well into the 2000s which required extensive travel for treatment, Janice and her late husband, Joseph, chose to step forward in philanthropy to help bring more treatment options to northern Minnesota.

Since her first gift, made with her husband more than 20 years ago, to her latest gift in 2023, Lueken’s generosity through the Sanford Health Foundation has helped transform local health care by supporting efforts like robotic-assisted surgical procedures at the Sanford Bemidji Heart and Vascular Center to the latest in cancer care.

According to the latest data, each year more than 500 people are diagnosed with cancer in the Bemidji area. After Joseph passed away in 2014 following a heart-breaking battle with cancer, the Lueken family agreed there was no better way to remember his life and legacy than through a gift to help create a new, state-of-the-art cancer center in the community he loved.

Thanks to support from the Joseph and Janice Lueken Family Foundation (shown above), the Sanford Joe Lueken Cancer Center opened in 2018.

Today, Janice continues to give in support of the Cancer Center, including gifts to fund the purchase of a new Linear Accelerator, as well as PET and CT scan technology. Her ongoing generosity is inspired by the memory of her husband, and the special place they called home for most of their lives.

“My husband battled a number of serious health problems, but through it all his positivity, spirituality and determination stood strong. Joe was truly an inspiration to us and all who knew him,” Janice said. “He once said, ‘When you can give back to the community who gave so much to you, there’s no greater feeling in the world.’ I couldn’t agree more. There’s no greater joy than to know we’re helping to bring health and healing to those right here in our community.”

If you’re inspired by this story and want to support Bemidji’s Sanford Health Foundation initiatives, giving to the Sanford Health Foundation will ensure that 100% of your donation will go to support patients and their families receiving care.

Give the gift of compassion to patients and families receiving cancer care at Sanford Health facilities, like the Sanford Joe Lueken Cancer Center. Your gift supports services like nurse navigation at no cost to patients, cancer research, direct financial patient assistance, and lifesaving equipment close to home.