Child Star

Donor, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital

Ann Lurie

Early one morning last June, Ann Lurie stood in the ambulance bay of the new Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital as attendants wheeled a steady stream of pintsize patients inside. Of the 127 children being transported from the hospital’s old headquarters in Lincoln Park to the $855 million facility in Streeterville, Lurie knew exactly which were the most fragile. “I was nervous all day,” recalls this mother of six and former pediatric intensive care nurse. “You are responsible for these little souls. You know that they will be cared for in a much more sophisticated manner—but they still had to move.”

Lurie’s investment went far beyond her concern for the kids. Her bellwether donation of $100 million and the fundraisers she organized to rally other philanthropists helped build the place. And by contributing more than $60 million to various projects at Northwestern University—including the Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center—she has been steadily seeding what she hopes will become a state-of-the-art medical campus downtown. “I have what I consider a moral and ethical responsibility to act,” says Lurie, who lost her husband, the savvy dealmaker Robert, to colon cancer in 1990. “I see health as a universal human right.”

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Photograph: Taylor Castle