Walter's Story

Big Gains, Great Strides

Opened in September 2007, the Walter Payton Liver Center offers patients some of the most advanced medical and surgical treatment available in the world. As part of the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System, it includes dedicated rooms for patients and special amenities for their families. To deliver the best possible care, the Walter Payton Liver Center has assembled a team of the world’s best physicians and surgeons, and has placed into their hands the most advanced technology. The Walter Payton Liver Center seeks to create an environment that blends the best in patient care with all the tools needed to conduct the research necessary to transform and save lives.

In this mission, we are motivated by the individual whose name honors our work. Walter Payton led a life driven by a desire and passion for winning. His commitment to his team, his city, and his family serves as a lesson for all of us as we approach the challenges in our lives.

Walter Payton Liver CenterIt is the rare athlete who will not only be remembered for the plays he made on the field but for the way he lived his life off the field. Walter Payton was such a man.

A two-time NFL Player of the Year and MVP, Walter led the 1985 Bears to the Super Bowl title and retired with both the all-time and single-game rushing records. In 1993, he was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame.

Walter played with a passion that earned him the love of his fans and the respect of his competitors. As much as it was his athletic achievements, it was Walter's joy for life and his generosity that truly earned him the nickname "Sweetness."

In 1999, it was revealed that Walter had been diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis, a rare liver disease. With the courage and character that defined his life, Walter fought his illness, while bringing new attention to the necessity for medical research to better understand liver diseases and the need for organ donations. Walter Payton succumbed to complications from his illness in November 1999. With equal measures of grace and grit, he inspired us all in the way he played, worked, lived, and died.

As much as the Walter Payton Liver Center has achieved, we know we can – and must – do so much more.  To raise funds, to raise awareness, to engage our community, to inspire individuals, to provide hope for patients and their families, and to fulfill the promise and potential of medical science, to stop liver cancer, we need your help.