LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- For the past 50 years, Andrew and Peggy Cherng have worked tirelessly to build a fast-food restaurant empire.
But for the co-founders and co-CEOs of Panda Express, philanthropy is also a key ingredient. And Tuesday the couple announced a $100 million donation to City of Hope cancer center to fund a national integrative oncology program.
"We're so blessed that we can do this," said philanthropist Andrew Cherng, whose father was treated for cancer at City of Hope years ago. "City of Hope was the hope, and they took care of him and took care of him very well."
The gift will establish the Cherng Family Center for Integrative Oncology at City of Hope.
It's the largest single donation for cancer care in City of Hope history.
"It means new critical thinking, research, innovation, and there is no better place to make that happen than City of Hope," said Peggy Cherng.
The seeds for this donation were actually planted over a light-hearted conversation about one of Panda Express's most popular foods.
"We met at the Panda Cares (philanthropy) event out in Palm Springs where we talked about their legendary orange chicken," said Dr. Edward Kim, vice president of the City of Hope National Medical Center, about his first meeting with Andrew Cherng.
The conversation quickly turned to medicine, specifically integrative oncology.
"Through our conversations I discovered our shared enthusiasm at the prospect of applying evidence-based eastern medicine principles to our standards of cancer care," said Kim.
Kim says the $100 million gift will continue to advance City of Hope's goal of not just treating the disease, but the entire body.
"This will lead us to emerge as national and ultimately international leaders of integrative oncology."
The Cherngs opened their first Panda Inn restaurant in Pasadena in 1973. In the 1980s they expanded into the fast-food industry with Panda Express, eventually building a business empire with more than 2,200 locations and more than 50,000 employees.
The company also operates a philanthropy arm known as Panda Cares.