Following up on the Spirit of Life

Lowe’s Bill Boltz looks back on his role with City of Hope.
Kenneth Clark
Editor in Chief
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The Hardware and homebuilding industry’s fundraising contributions to City of Hope’s patient care and life-saving research exceeded $5 million in the past year. But one can’t put a figure on what it meant for City of Hope’s Spirit of Life Award honoree Bill Boltz.

The Lowe’s executive VP of merchandising shared his thoughts on a memorable year of giving back.

a man smiling for the camera
Bill Boltz

When you speak to someone about City of Hope, what do you share with them?

This year marks my 39th year in the home improvement industry and throughout my career, even back to my early days that began with Sears, I’ve had such a deep level of respect and admiration for the City of Hope because of the incredible work they do.

They’re an organization driven by philanthropy! Contributions and donations are what fuel their research to treat and cure cancer, diabetes and other serious illnesses that impact millions of people.

I’m just really honored to have the chance to be a part of their mission…and if I get asked about City of Hope and the work they do, it’s an honor to share the stories of that great work.

Since the virtual Spirit of Life event in May, how has your knowledge of City of Hope increased? What did you discover about City of Hope during your campaign?

I’ve had the personal privilege of knowing and partnering with City of Hope for more than 30 years and, in that time, I have come to know the direct impact the organizations’ work has on the fight to eradicate cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

However, what I didn’t know until my Spirit of Life campaign this year was exactly how they approach research and development. It’s a unique approach — one they call “Bench to Bedside” because of how they investigate, discover and develop new therapies, then manufacture the compound right on their campus. Speed is so critical when you’re a patient looking for a cure…so, this just absolutely blew me away when I learned about it.

City of Hope campus in Southern California.

Regarding the virtual Spirit of Life event, what stands out in your memory? What was the highlight of the evening?

As much as I would have loved to have done the gala in person, it ended up being just an awesome event. Lowe’s is celebrating our 100th birthday this year so, to be recognized by the Hardware and Home Improvement industry at the same time made it even better.

Before my acceptance speech, I was surprised with a video compilation from different members of my family — my wife and stepsons, my daughters, my sister and my mom all snuck around behind my back to record messages for me and it really took me aback. It was pretty special.

You and the Lowe’s team had an awesome campaign — with the success of the virtual Spirit of Life gala, Miles for Hope and the Annual Lowe’s Golf Classic, which was one of the first in-person events hosted by City of Hope. How has the success of this campaign made you feel over these last few months?

In one word: proud. My team at Lowe’s is just awesome and everyone really rallied behind this cause, along with our vendor community…they all were there right there together. I’m so impressed by everyone’s partnership and support.

I’ve shared this before but I, like so many others, have had my life forever changed by the disease City of Hope works so hard to defeat. I recently lost my father to cancer, and both my mother and sister are cancer survivors. So, it really has been a personal cause for me, like it is for so many others. And to have had such an impactful and successful campaign as the 2021 Spirit of Life Honoree makes me incredibly proud. I definitely feel like “we left it better than we found it!”

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