LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 23, 2022) — After some savvy investing, Manuel Boggs found himself in a position to make a big difference. And he knew just where he wanted to do it.
“I thought to myself, 'what do I do with this money,'” Boggs said. “I’ve always had a soft spot for children, and I wanted to do something for children that are in the hospital.”
Boggs, a former University of Kentucky employee, thought about the patients at Kentucky Children’s Hospital (KCH), and his heart went out to them.
“When you’re a child, being a child is supposed to be the greatest time of your life,” he said. “You’re supposed to enjoy life, go to parties, things like that. But children in the hospital can’t do that.”
Boggs reached out to KCH to establish a fund dedicated to giving patients celebrations. Birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving — if there’s a reason to party, Boggs will help support it.
“I was thinking how unfair it was that they would be in the hospital on their birthday or during a holiday,” said Boggs. "What a great thing it would be to just take an hour or two where they can forget about where they are and whatever tests or procedures are coming up, and just be a kid.”
The Child Life program at KCH has dedicated staff to support children while they are in the hospital, who try and relieve some of the anxiety they may experience. They do this by planning activities and celebrations for patients and their families. Their job is to look at the hospital experience through the eyes of a child and figure out ways to help them cope and better understand what they’re experiencing. Playtime and parties are as vital to the healing process as medical interventions. This gift will double their budget.
“This gift from Mr. Boggs will have a tremendous impact on how we can support our patients,” said Jennifer Guilliams, manager for Child and Family Life at KCH. “Families have their own holiday traditions. We want to make it easier for them to celebrate together during what is otherwise a stressful and uncertain time.”
Boggs also envisions family meals at holidays, such as having a Thanksgiving feast in the patient’s room. It’s important for families to maintain their traditions, Boggs said. Especially if it’s a situation where it could be the last holiday they spend together.
“I know the hospital does a meal in the cafeteria, but that’s not the same as sitting down together as a family and having that moment,” said Boggs. “It may be the last one, and for at least a couple of hours, I don’t want them to have to think about what could come tomorrow.”
For Boggs, this is just a nice thing to do for children and their families. But the purpose of this gift reinforces KCH’s mission to provide the best possible care for Kentucky’s children.
“Everything we do here is to help kids get back to being kids,” said Scottie B. Day, M.D., physician-in-chief for KCH. “We don’t just provide medical care. We support every facet of the child’s well-being. Celebrating them and giving them a reason to smile is the best medicine.”
Even though Boggs won’t get to see the direct impact, he knows how much of a difference this gift will make for the children.
“I want them to enjoy their time,” he said. “I want them to have presents on their birthday. I want them to have cake. I don’t want any child left out. I want them to just think about today and enjoy being a kid for just a little while.”
The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers." We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.