Investing in Care for the Most Vulnerable
With a naturally inquisitive mind, Ken Mares carefully researches any organization he considers supporting. He meets the people in the organization, asks thoughtful questions, and works to understand the organization’s mission. Once he decides to support the organization, he often becomes passionately involved.
“I pick and choose to support what I really like, and I’m committed to investing in excellence,” he says. “With St. Louis Children’s Hospital, I’ve chosen wisely.”
His interest in pediatric health care began after watching a pediatric surgeon repair a child’s heart. The experience opened his eyes to the wonders of pediatric medicine. “I’ve been amazed ever since, which is why I was intrigued with St. Louis Children’s Hospital,” Ken says.
Changing the Trajectory of Life
Ken has been a donor to St. Louis Children’s Hospital for more than 20 years. He established an endowment fund to benefit the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
“When you invest in the NICU, you’re changing the trajectory of a child’s life,” Ken says. “It helps at a time when a baby is most vulnerable.”
F. Sessions Cole, M.D., is the director of the Undiagnosed Disease Network, among other leadership and research roles at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. As a pediatric neonatologist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Dr. Cole was the NICU director before retiring as the neonatology division chief in 2019.
Ken continues to be impressed by discussions he has had with Dr. Cole and other leaders at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. In addition to his NICU endowment fund, Ken supported an endowment fund to create The F. Sessions Cole, M.D., Chair in Newborn Medicine.
An endowed chair represents the highest accolade a hospital can bestow upon a physician. Endowed chairs not only elevate the holder, but also honor in perpetuity the person for whom they are named.
The F. Sessions Cole, M.D., Chair in Newborn Medicine will be held by a distinguished teacher-researcher in his or her chosen field, lending strength, stature, permanency and leadership to St. Louis Children’s Hospital’s nationally acclaimed and expanding efforts in these areas. “Dr. Cole pushed the frontier of pediatric health care,” Ken says. “He is an impressive person, and his accomplishments are staggering. I choose to support St. Louis Children’s Hospital because it is a hospital of national stature and because of Dr. Cole and his many achievements. The NICU fits my interests, and I want to support and contribute to the excellence of something I admire.”
Generosity Nurtures Future Stars
Ken feels fortunate to have the resources to be able to help others. “A lot of people spend money on cars and entertainment, but I would rather spend my money on the younger part of the community.”
Because Ken believes St. Louis Children’s Hospital is a gem in the community, he has also established a charitable remainder trust to benefit the hospital after his death. “When I die, I want to make the resources available to the NICU to do as leadership sees fit,” he says. “I feel good about the decision I made about my estate to support the hospital.”
This planned gift means he is an honored member of the hospital’s Stars Society, a recognition society that includes those who have provided for the hospital in their will, estate plan, charitable trust or other planned gift.
Stars seem to be a common theme in Ken’s life.
As a faculty member at University of Missouri-St. Louis, Ken is the director of the Students and Teachers As Research Scientists (STARS) program, which offers academically talented high school seniors a rare opportunity to work within a laboratory research setting with top scientists at Washington University, St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Saint Louis University, Cortex Innovation Community and University of Missouri-St. Louis.
“Through STARS, I can also associate with St. Louis Children’s more,” he explains. “We’ve had speakers from the hospital come to talk to our students, and I enjoy getting to know the doctors and researchers.”
In addition to his generous support, Ken gives his time and ideas as part of the hospital’s Community and Faith Advisory Board.
“I have such confidence in St. Louis Children’s Hospital, and I like being associated with it,” Ken says. “Good things are happening there every day.”