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Valley homebuilder donates $5M to Banner to fight childhood obesity

(Banner Health Photo)

PHOENIX — The Fulton Family Foundation is giving the Phoenix-based Banner Health system $5 million to fight childhood obesity.

The gift will establish the Dr. Robin Blackstone Childhood Obesity Center of Excellence at the Banner University Medical Center in Phoenix.

Valley homebuilder Ira Fulton, the foundation’s chair, credits Blackstone with saving his life.

“Because of her, I was able to go on with my life and business, and to be here today, able to give more money away to deserving programs and causes like this,” he said in a press release.

Blackstone has performed about 5,000 bariatric surgeries over 15 years and has served as president of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

Fulton endowed a chair position, which Blackstone filled, last year with a $2 million gift.

“Thanks to Ira’s generosity, our Childhood Obesity Center of Excellence will be a beacon to attract the best research, public policy, and funding so that … we can provide personalized solutions to children and their families,” she said in the release.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 18% of children in the nation are affected by childhood obesity.

Conditions related to obesity include asthma, sleep apnea and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Along with donating to health causes, Fulton has supported education.

The Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University is named for the him, while the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College is named for his wife.

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