Why We Are Here


The John Atkinson Lung Cancer Foundation is providing leadership to save lives and end lung cancer through awareness, advocacy, and scholarships to students. We are dedicated to erasing the stigma that lung cancer can only happen to smokers.  Lung Cancer can happen to anyone…John was anyone.

Named for John Atkinson, a nonsmoking father of three and devoted husband, who died of lung cancer in June of 2009 at the age of 40, the nonprofit public charity strives to be recognized as a leading advocate on the issue in Nebraska and across the country.

Lung cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States.  It is the nation’s primary cancer killer, yet it is largely ignored by many Americans and public officials alike. The disease accounts for one in three cancer deaths overall and will kill more people this year than breast, prostate, colorectal, kidney and liver cancer combined. As a public health funding priority, lung cancer remains woefully under-funded.


Nearly 220,000 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year. Many will die within a year of their diagnosis. Tragically, four out of five people diagnosed die within five years. John’s vision recognized the stigma that lung cancer is a smoker’s disease.  John never smoked.  Did you know that over 80 percent of new cases are those who have never smoked or are former smokers who quit decades earlier?. Our foundation is determined to change that misconception.

The foundation will create linkages with schools, partner organizations, community members and public officials to reach our goals.

Goal 1:  To provide scholarships to students who have lost a parent to lung cancer.
Goal 2:  To increase awareness of lung cancer in order to prevent the disease.
Goal 3:  To advocate for increased funding for lung cancer research.

John handed the torch to his family. Through vision and determination, the work continues to give hope to an entire nation’s legacy and dreams in the battle to end lung cancer.