DALLAS, Texas – These types of events are always referred to as ground breakings, but this one really did feel groundbreaking.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Jones Family and executives from Baylor Scott & White, the Baylor foundation and the American Cancer Society turned ceremonial shovels on a $25 million project that will offer free housing to cancer patients and their caregivers when they undergo treatments at any of the medical centers in the city.
The facility includes a $7.5 million donation from the Jones Family and will bear their name as the "Gene and Jerry Jones Family Hope Lodge." It will be the first facility of its kind in the North Texas area.
"When someone's driving out of that driveway and they don't know how they're going to buy the gas or where they're going to eat or how they're going to stay, but they've got to get a loved one some care, we want to try to help out a little bit," Jerry Jones said on Tuesday at the ceremony. "That's what this place does. Hopefully, intangibly, they'll know that a lot of people care about them."
That care will be evident, judging from the amenities offered by the facility, which is slated to open in early 2021. The 40,000 square-foot Hope Lodge will include 50 private guest suites and feature common living areas, dining room, laundry facilities, a library, a meditation room and an outdoor garden.
Patients and their caregivers staying at the facility will also have access to the current offerings of the American Cancer Society's programs and services.
All told, The Gene and Jerry Jones Family Hope Lodge is expected to provide more than 18,000 nights of free lodging per year for cancer patients traveling to Dallas.
"It touches us all. I've had so many players, for instance, that have dealt vicariously or directly, with cancer," Jerry Jones said. "Dak Prescott lost his mom, as an example that's well known."
The universal nature of the problem is something Jones cited more than once. Given the visibility of the Cowboys' brand, he said it was important to his family to use it to help others.
"This is a way our family and the Cowboys can hopefully be a visible example, as well as tangible, and stand on our shoulders a little bit to help out some people that really need some help," he said.