By Sarah Boerkircher


As we celebrate a new year, 2018 also marks an important 140th anniversary year for Saint Joseph Hospital. Founded in 1877, by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, Saint Joseph Hospital has grown into a 433-bed medical center with a full range of services, including the national award-winning heart institute and leading edge da Vinci robotic surgery. Also known as “Lexington’s heart hospital”, Saint Joseph has pioneered many firsts in the healthcare community.

“As Lexington’s first hospital, we remain the first choice for health care today,” said Leslie Buddeke Smart, CFRE, President of Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation. “Saint Joseph East is also a full-service community hospital located in the rapidly growing southeastern section of Lexington, Kentucky. It includes The Women’s Hospital, which has a 16-bed Level III neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), is dedicated to the health and wellbeing of women in central and eastern Kentucky.”

The Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation is a non-profit on a mission to bring health, wellness and hope to Lexington and surrounding communities. The Foundation provides critical philanthropic support to Saint Joseph Hospitals by raising philanthropic support through major and planned gifts, annual giving and events. Through the generosity of donors throughout the community, the Foundation is able to provide facility improvements, state-of-the-art equipment, program support, and workforce needs including providing scholarship funding for nurses and allied health staff to advance their education.

A STAR-filled evening

The Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation recently hosted its 29th annual STARS Gala to benefit Saint Joseph Hospital and Saint Joseph East. The event honored deserving physicians and community leaders who are improving lives through philanthropic support, clinical care, service and leadership. Nancy Cox with LEX18 emceed the evening’s award program.

The funds raised during the “Mission Moment” portion of the night benefited the tiniest babies served at The Women’s Hospital at Saint Joseph East in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Toni Marie and Chris Perry, parents of twins Olivia and Avery, shared their story, and deep appreciation, of the life-saving care that their daughters received during their five-week stay in the NICU.

“The dollars raised during the ‘Mission Moment’ will fund a Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN) Compounder to measure the exact nutrition needed for these tiny babies,” said Leslie. “Thanks to a lead gift from the Crusade for Children of $30,000, and proceeds from the STARS Gala, we will be able to fund this much-needed equipment. Babies just like Olivia and Avery will both survive and thrive.”    

The STARS Gala Committee, chaired by Tracy Colon, worked tirelessly to create a memorable evening for guests. An aerialist towered above the entrance and kicked off the STAR-studded event. Guests enjoyed a four-course meal and danced the night away on a star-lit dance floor to the sounds of the 12-piece band, The Mercy Men. The premier silent auction featured a trip to the South of France and an African safari. Guests departed the STARS Gala with treats for the ride home, which included sugar cookies adorned with crystal stars.

“It was a memorable evening for all who attended,” said Leslie. “It was also a successful evening because nearly $90,000 was raised for the Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation.”

‘Forever in debt and grateful’ to Saint Joseph Hospital

The Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation recently celebrated the renovation of the Wilma E. Thornton Cardiothoracic Vascular Unit (CTVU Suite) at Saint Joseph Hospital, which was made possible by a $1.5 million transformation gift. The major renovation to the CTVU Suite was in honor of Mrs. Thornton, a former patient who passed away in 2011 at age 86.

“Mrs. Thornton son, Michael Thornton, credited Saint Joseph Hospital with allowing her to enjoy ‘bonus years’ by providing outstanding care,” said Leslie. “Following her surgery, her son wrote a personal note to the hospital president expressing that the family was ‘forever in debt and grateful.’”

Two months before Mrs. Thornton passed away, Michael Thornton and his wife, Amy, pledged $1.5 million to the Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation, the second largest donation in foundation’s history.

Improvements to the CTVU Suite include major facelifts to 22 patient rooms to provide a more peaceful environment, and upgrades throughout the nurses’ work stations and common areas. The CTVU Suite is designed to help patients with heart, lung and vascular illnesses.

“Thanks to Mrs. Thornton’s surgeon at Saint Joseph Hospital, and the wonderful clinical care she received, she was able to spend an additional year with her two sons and grandchildren. She was able to enjoy University of Kentucky basketball games, trips to Keeneland and much more. Mrs. Thornton was forever grateful to the hospital. We, too, are grateful for Mrs. Thornton and her family for the incredible legacy they have provided to Saint Joseph Hospital,” said Leslie.

For those interested in making a donation to The Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation, donations can be made at or by calling 859.313.170.  Checks may be mailed to Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation, 701 Bob O’Link, Suite 200, Lexington, KY 40504.

“By making a donation, you are supporting the work of an organization that is vital to the health and welfare of people in Lexington, and surrounding communities,” said Leslie. “More work is ahead, and we need your support to make it possible.” •

The 30th Annual Evening with the STARS Gala

October 27, 2018

The Evening with the STARS celebrates the medical staff leadership at Saint Joseph Hospital and Saint Joseph East as well as community leaders. Prestigious awards are bestowed on health care professionals for excellence in leadership, innovation and service. In addition to physician honorees, each year the STARS Gala also honors a Community Leader of the Year. The Community Leader of the Year award honors non-medical leaders who have made significant contributions to improve health care in our community.”

The 29th Annual Golf Tournament at the University Club of Kentucky

June 11, 2018 in Lexington, KY

This annual golf tournament features teams of four playing in a scramble format at The UK Club, which features two 18-hole courses. Players come from a variety of businesses throughout Kentucky to take part in this annual event. For more information, please visit


Yes, Mamm! 5K at the RJ Corman Railroad Group

October 13, 2018 in Nicholasville, KY


The Yes, Mamm! 5K is a competitive walk/run through the park-like property at RJ Corman Railroad Group in Nicholasville, KY. This event raises funds to support the Yes, Mamm! program. Yes, Mamm! provides funding for individuals to receive a mammogram regardless of their ability to pay. The Yes, Mamm! 5K has become a must attend race in Central Kentucky. It is a great opportunity to gather as a community with friends, patients and families in a fun outdoor setting. For more information, please visit