A Kiewit representative helps Emily Stephenson, 3, and sister Julia, 5, signal for the beam-raising as their mom, Amy Stephenson, looks on with UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D.

A Kiewit representative helps Emily Stephenson, 3, and sister Julia, 5, signal for the beam-raising as their mom, Amy Stephenson, looks on with UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D.

Hundreds crowded the green space in front of the Durham Research Towers on Aug. 11 to celebrate the “topping off” of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center with a ceremonial beam raising event marking the huge construction milestone for the facility set to open in early 2017.

UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D., welcomed faculty, staff, donors and local officials, including Mike Yanney and Gail Walling Yanney, M.D.; Ruth Scott; representatives from the Cattlemen’s Ball; Omaha City Council members Pete Festersen, Chris Jerram and Ben Gray; state Sens. Jim Smith, Merv Riepe, Sue Crawford, Al Davis, Bob Hilkeman, Rick Kolowski and Mark Kolterman; and former U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson and well as many others to the event.

“This is truly a great day for our campus,” Dr. Gold said. “This facility represents how health care will be delivered in the future, and also how our campus will integrate clinical care, discovery and education, all for the benefit of our patients. It’s really an exciting day.”

Rosanna Morris, Nebraska Medicine interim CEO (photo courtesy of the University of Nebraska Foundation)

Nebraska Medicine interim CEO Rosanna Morris said that when the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center opens, “it will have everything our cancer center patients need, all in one place. How do we know? Because we’ve involved physicians, researchers, staff members and — most importantly — cancer patients in every aspect of the design of the facilities.

“We know, and they know, that curing cancer is not just about eradicating cancer cells,” she said. “It’s about so much more. It’s about treating the whole person – mind, body and spirit.”

The highlight of the event came from Emily Stephenson, our patient being treated at Nebraska Medicine for a blood disorder, who gave the command with her 5-year-old sister, Julia, to “Raise that beam!”

The celebratory event included Nebraska Medicine and UNMC employees signing the signature beams that traveled over 2,000 miles throughout Nebraska collecting thousands of signatures supporting this endeavor.

Nebraska Medicine staff and UNMC faculty, staff and students, came out -- along with donors, campus and community leaders and other supporters -- to sign the beams and see them raised.

Nebraska Medicine staff and UNMC faculty, staff and students, came out — along with donors, campus and community leaders and other supporters — to sign the beams and see them raised.

See beam signings throughout Nebraska here.

For a photo album of the beam raising, click here.

For an aerial view of the beam raising, watch the video.