Longtime UC Davis Supporters Receive Charles J. Soderquist Award

Grateful Alumni Couple Enjoys Giving Back by Investing in UC Davis Students

John and Lesli Chuck
John and Lesli Chuck, founders of Serotonin Surge Charities, support UC Davis in a variety of ways, including the free clinics affiliated with the School of Medicine and the students who volunteer there. (UC Davis photo)

The UC Davis Foundation has recognized John and Lesli Chuck ’84 with the prestigious 2018 Charles J. Soderquist Award. The annual award is presented to individuals who demonstrate excellence in philanthropy, volunteerism and leadership, and an overall commitment to the University of California, Davis.

John completed his medical residency at UC Davis and has been a family physician with The Permanente Medical Group for 28 years. Lesli graduated from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, as did their daughter Kelly earlier this year. 

The Chucks are passionate about making medical care accessible to everyone. This passion motivated them to start Serotonin Surge Charities more than 20 years ago. The charity has benefited many of the UC Davis School of Medicine-affiliated student-run health clinics, along with other organizations such as Cure Breast Cancer. The Chucks have also supported undergraduate scholarships and UC Davis Intercollegiate Athletics.

“We are very pleased to recognize Lesli and John as this year’s recipients of the Charles J. Soderquist Award. The Chucks are shining examples of how volunteers and donors can make a huge difference in their philanthropic passions at UC Davis,” said Bruce Bell, chair of the UC Davis Foundation Board of Trustees.

The UC Davis Foundation is a nonprofit organization that enhances the excellence of UC Davis by highlighting the impacts of philanthropy and stewarding private donations to the university. The foundation’s Board of Trustees created the Soderquist Award in 2005 in honor of UC Davis alumnus, entrepreneur and philanthropist Charles J. Soderquist. It awards the recipients $5,000, which they donate to a university program or field of their choice. The Chucks have decided to support The Pantry, a student-run organization at the university that provides students in need with access to up to three meals a day.

“I have a heart for students, especially those juggling full-time academics with a job or multiple jobs to finance their education,” said Lesli, who serves as the event planner for Serotonin Surge Charities. “Donating to The Pantry offers a wonderful opportunity to give back to students in need of these resources.”   

The Chucks also participated in Give Day by challenging the UC Davis community to give 25 gifts to The Pantry during the universitywide fundraising event. The challenge was met, and 27 donors contributed a total of $7,046 to The Pantry.

A ‘favorite’ award among many

John previously won the Sidney Garfield Exceptional Contribution Award in 2004 for his work in physician recruitment and mentoring at Kaiser Permanente. He was also the winner of the UC Davis Cal Aggie Alumni Association’s 2014 Outstanding Alumnus Award. John said the Charles J. Soderquist Award is his favorite recognition, however.

“The Soderquist Award acknowledges the partnership Lesli and I have had in this work for over two decades and affirms our belief that it is possible to make good things happens for our communities through volunteerism and collaboration.”

He added that this award is mostly a tribute to everyone who has been a part of Serotonin Surge Charities over the years. He and Lesli are excited for the future of the organization, and the continuation of their partnership and involvement with the university.

“UC Davis has done a lot for both Lesli and I personally and professionally — it launched our careers and helped us meet fabulous professors, staff and students,” John said. “It is my firm belief that UC Davis is the university that best combines excellence with kindness — it is a privilege to be part of that.” 

Media Resources

Laura Pizzo, Development and Alumni Relations, 530-750-3115, lpizzo@ucdavis.edu

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