When Tom Perkins passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2015, his family partnered with the SFGH Foundation to make sure that Tom’s legacy of kindness and generosity would live on.
Tom was the owner of the Dudley Perkins Company, a fourth-generation family-owned Harley-Davidson dealership located in South San Francisco. His widow, Janet Perkins, remembers, “In 1975 when he was 18 years old, Tom was involved in a hit and run accident while riding his motorcycle in downtown San Francisco. Paramedics brought him to ZSFG where he was treated for substantial blood loss, multiple fractures in both legs, and a nearly severed right foot. The ER physicians saved Tom’s life, and the orthopedic surgeons did everything they could to save his foot, but it had to be amputated.”
Tom was so grateful for the excellent care he received that he wanted to do something to give back and show his appreciation. Janet recalls, “In 1983, Tom organized the inaugural Dudley Perkins Company Toy Run in honor of the medical staff who had saved his life. Tom led a total of 31 toy runs, and in 2014, he was honored with an SFGH Foundation Heroes & Hearts Award.” During this holiday event, hundreds of motorcycle riders follow Santa Claus to ZSFG, where they deliver toys for pediatric patients and local children. These toys are handed out at the hospital’s annual Children’s Holiday Party, bringing joy to countless families each year.
After Tom passed away, Janet and her family established the Tom Perkins Legacy Foundation in his honor.
“When Tom died, it was incredibly important for our family to try to find something positive to come from such a devastating loss. Tom was happiest when he was able to help and support others. He often counseled those who had faced amputations and explained how he led a full life, which included his passions of motorcycle riding and hiking.”
“We established our nonprofit to honor Tom’s positivity and generosity by funding specialized prosthetics for patients who could not afford to purchase them on their own,” she continues. “We wanted to provide a prosthesis that would allow them to do things they may not have been able to do with a standard prosthesis—like dancing, running, swimming, or holding a musical instrument.”
Their first grant recipient was Kim Yu, an award-winning triathlete who received a state-of-the-art running blade prosthesis. Janet says, “The fact that Kim was a patient at San Francisco General Hospital was a full circle bonus!” In 2019, Janet and her family donated all the funds raised by their foundation to create the Tom Perkins Legacy Prosthetics Support Fund at the SFGH Foundation. Janet explains, “We know that they have the expertise to continue distributing the funds we’ve raised to those in need.”
ZSFG and the SFGH Foundation are so grateful to the Perkins family for their continued generosity, which will allow us to improve the quality of life for more of our amputee patients. Janet knows that this is what her husband would have wanted. As she told us, “Tom would have been so incredibly proud and honored.”