In recognition of more than a century of support to the American Red Cross and the greater Chicago community, the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois is proud to honor The Otho S.A. Sprague Memorial Institute with the Heritage Award.
The Otho S.A. Sprague Memorial Institute was founded in 1911 with a mission to pursue the investigation of the causes of disease and the prevention and relief of human suffering in Chicago. A few years after The Otho S.A. Sprague Memorial Institute was founded, the Red Cross established a Chicago chapter. The son of Otho, A.A. Sprague II, was the first chairman of the board of the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago when it was chartered in 1915. Organized just six weeks before the infamous Eastland Disaster, when a passenger ship rolled over onto its side while tied to a dock in the Chicago River, the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago was able to respond immediately.
The Institute’s early research programs investigated cancer, the effects of chemotherapy on tuberculosis, industrial diseases and the metabolism of carbohydrates affecting diabetes. The Institute funded and created a biomedical research program, which was considered bold at the time. This early research resulted in many important findings,
including the cause of scarlet fever.
“The early 1900s reflected a time when so many institutions were being created,” said James Alexander, executive director of the Otho S.A. Sprague Memorial Institute. “This great family was at the center of a lot of that. The earliest work of the Institute reflected an innovative mindset.”
In 1995, the Institute created the Chicago Asthma Initiative, funding a diverse group of researchers, providers, community and patient initiatives to highlight the growing health problem, collect data, apply innovative solutions and share outcomes.
In 2002, the Institute re-focused its grant-making energies on obesity prevention. It created The Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC), which has become a globally recognized model. Longitudinal research shows obesity rates in pre-kindergarteners have been reduced by two percent due to CLOCC’s efforts. Initiatives in
Oral Health, Public Health and Behavioral Health continue the Institute’s model of fostering collaborations.
The Institute continues to fund the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois, specifically the Patient Connection program, a central hotline that expedites the ability of family and friends to connect with each other after a disaster.
“More than a century has passed since the Sprague family helped charter the Chicago chapter of the Red Cross. Our founding members set the stage for years of important work to come,” said Celena Roldan, CEO of the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois. “Both the Red Cross and the Otho S.A. Sprague Memorial Institute work
to prevent and alleviate human suffering. It is a joy to honor their connection to the founding of our local Red Cross and to celebrate their impact on the city of Chicago.”
The Heritage Award is given to an individual or organization whose leadership and actions greatly enhanced the welfare of our community.
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