LEXINGTON, Ky (June 9, 2020) – Ask Tony Delk why children’s hospitals are close to his heart and he’ll answer without hesitation.
“I have two reasons: I have two daughters that have sickle cell disease.”
For the former basketball star, the biggest challenge of his life wasn’t one he faced on the court. His daughters, Taylor and Trinity, are both living with sickle cell disease — an inherited blood disorder that can cause spiking pain, debilitating fatigue and potentially lead to serious, long-term health complications. Both girls were diagnosed as babies, and Tony and his daughters — now 21 and 14 — have spent more time than most in children’s hospitals across the country.
“Once Taylor was diagnosed, we started going to the hospital when she would have these pain crises. Seeing her fight through it, I was like, 'wow, this girl right here is a real trooper,'” Tony said. “All those years, spending countless nights in the hospital, going on doctor’s visits, it gave me a true connection with children’s hospitals.” Tony’s daughters have been treated at a children’s hospital near the family’s home in Atlanta. But when Tony wanted to give back, he looked further north, to another place that meant the world to him: Lexington.
As a student at the University of Kentucky, he was a member of “The Untouchables,” the legendary UK basketball team that won the 1996 NCAA Championship. While Tony’s basketball career took him all over the country, Lexington maintained a special place in his heart.
“Kentucky has meant so much to me — my ties to the state and all the fan support I’ve had over the years. I knew I wanted to reach out and do some things to help the children’s hospital in Lexington.” For Delk, that opportunity to help came from one of his many business ventures: his involvement with Wildside Winery in Versailles, Kentucky. He decided to donate a portion of the proceeds from his signature Lorenz00’s Reserve wines to Kentucky Children’s Hospital. Delk is donating 15% of all sales through December 2020 to Kentucky Children’s Hospital — helping kids and families like his, all across the Commonwealth.
“That was one of the most important things when I was thinking about the wine label, was how I could help out a state that has done so many great and tremendous things for me and my family. When Nicole came up with the idea of, ‘Hey, why don’t you give some of your donation proceeds to Kentucky Children's Hospital?’ It was a no-brainer. I was all in. I wanted to give a portion of sales to them as a small token of my appreciation for what they’ve done and what they’re doing for all the kids across the Commonwealth.”
Kentucky Children’s Hospital is the region’s only hospital dedicated to the unique needs of children, staffed completely by pediatric experts who have spent their careers caring for kids. That specialized level of care is what makes a children’s hospital different — especially from a parent’s point of view.
“They offer love. They give you love, they care about your kids," Delk said. "These doctors and these nurses, they have families, they have people to attend to and take care of, but they've made our kids a priority. When someone can do that, it speaks volumes for who that person is and how big their heart is. And when you have people that care, you want to go above and beyond to do what you can to help them.”
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 three 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" two 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 four 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.