Denny Sanford accepts the Pontifical Key Philanthropy Award from Monsignor Tomasz Trafny and Dr. Robin Smith of the Cura Foundation.

Vatican lauds Denny Sanford’s generosity

July 27, 2018

Monsignor Tomasz Trafny, a delegate from the Vatican, arrived in Sioux Falls last week to honor Sanford Health’s namesake and benefactor, Denny Sanford, with the Pontifical Key Philanthropy Award.

The award was presented during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Sanford House — a $6-million tribute to Mr. Sanford’s legacy in health care — underscoring the significance of the new building.

For those in attendance, including Sanford Health executives, donors from across the region and local business leaders, the Monsignor’s presence was also a cogent reminder that the health care initiatives catalyzed by Mr. Sanford’s generosity are not only impacting lives throughout the Upper Midwest, but across the globe.

“Mr. Sanford’s generosity and commitment is a sign of profound empathy and commitment towards those in need,” said Monsignor Trafny, who leads the Science and Faith Department of the Pontifical Council for Culture of the Vatican. “In that sense, with his contributions, he fulfills Pope Francis’ idea that for all our limitations, gestures of generosity, solidarity and care cannot but well up within us, since we were made for love.”

Monsignor Trafny was joined by Dr. Robin Smith, president of the Cura Foundation. Both are leaders behind the biannual International Vatican Conference, where Sanford Health recently had a major presence.

“Mr. Sanford is an extraordinary individual whose generosity, vision and philanthropy embodies humanitarianism,” said Dr. Smith. “He is a role model in his resounding commitment to improving the human condition, and we are honored to give him this award.”


A celebration of philanthropy

Later that evening, a grand opening celebration was hosted at the Sanford House to honor the donors who helped make the building possible.

Find more photos from the grand opening on our Facebook page.


About the Sanford House

Supported through the private generosity of donors, the 18,000-square-foot Sanford House celebrates the life and legacy of Denny Sanford, health care’s greatest philanthropist.

You’re invited to visit any weekday to explore dynamic displays and exhibits that illustrate the far-reaching impact of Mr. Sanford’s generosity. To date, he has invested nearly $1 billion of his personal wealth in bold patient care, research and educational initiatives aimed at improving the human condition.

“We hope that visitors leave feeling inspired, feeling they want to be a part of something much bigger than themselves,” said Bobbie Tibbetts, vice president of the Sanford Health Foundation.

Visit to learn more!