Parishioner donates big to telethon

Dawn Lee, president of the WHAS Crusade for Children, left, smiled as she listened to Terry Hickey, during an interview at the Jefferson Manor Rehab and Wellness Center, May 7. Hickey, whose parents were founding members of the Crusade, has donated $150,000 to the telethon in the last two years. (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)

Terry Hickey, a member of Holy Spirit Church, was present at the first WHAS Crusade for Children telethon seven decades ago. He doesn’t remember many details of that day, but the lesson in giving remains.  

Hickey, who was born with cerebral palsy, is one of the Crusade’s top donors.

He contributed $90,000 to the Crusade this year; last year he gave $60,000. The Crusade raises money for agencies, schools and hospitals “to make life better for children with special needs,” according to its website, whascrusade.org.

Though a top contributor, Hickey said in a recent interview he doesn’t think much about his contribution. He only hopes when it’s “added to other donations that it’ll make a difference.”

Hickey’s whole family has been involved in supporting the Crusade for decades. He is one of three sons of Helen and Hank Hickey, who helped organize the forerunner to the Crusade, a telethon for children with cerebral palsy.

Hickey is wheelchair-bound, but despite his physical challenges he was able to live a full life, said his niece Colleen Creed, who Hickey refers to as his “right-hand” person. 

“He was even able to drive,” said Creed, explaining that his car was outfitted with hand controls.

Hickey attended St. Xavier High School and Bellarmine University. After graduation, he pursued a career in banking.

“I didn’t get married, so I was able to save my money,” Hickey said during a recent interview. 

“We were just an average family,” he said of his childhood. “We had our problems. Mom and dad were wonderful.” 

His niece said the family, life-long members of Holy Spirit Church, was close and they cared for each other. 

“My grandmother took good care of him,” Creed said. Hickey’s father died more than six decades ago, but his mother lived to be 99 years old. Hickey lived with her all his life. When she grew too elderly to remain at home, they moved into an assisted living facility together, Creed said. 

Dawn Lee, president and CEO of the WHAS Crusade for Children, sat with Hickey for a video interview May 7 at the Jefferson Manor Rehab and Wellness Center where he lives. The footage will air during the annual telethon June 2. 

“You have a unique history with the Crusade,” Lee told Hickey.

She explained that Hickey’s parents joined several other families in starting the fundraiser — which grew into the Crusade — because “they wanted to do something for their son.” 

They traveled to New York City to learn how to organize a telethon, Lee said. That fundraiser was around for two years, and the funds benefited the National Cerebral Palsy Foundation. The families soon realized, however, that they wanted to invest in an event where the funds would remain local, she said.

Reflecting on Hickey’s gift, Lee said it’s always “heartwarming” to receive such large gifts.

“Part of the beauty of the Crusade is the donors that have been involved since the beginning and still see the need to help kids with special challenges. That touches me beyond measure,” said Lee. “Every gift matters, and when someone steps up with a gift this size it helps. We have more need than funds.”

Lee also noted that she’s grateful for the Archdiocese of Louisville’s support of the Crusade. The archdiocese is one of the Crusade’s top contributors, with parishes taking up an annual collection. 

Last year, the Archdiocese of Louisville collection contributed $233,777.

Ruby Thomas
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Ruby Thomas
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