Not all of us — hardly any of us, really — have the business success or financial ability of a C.M. "Bill" Gatton to bestow millions of dollars on good causes.
But, like Gatton, we can commit, if only in small ways, to building bridges for those who will come after us and who, without our help, may stumble on the way.
Already the biggest private donor in University of Kentucky history, Gatton topped himself by pledging $20 million toward a $175 million renovation of the student center.
Earlier the Bristol, Tenn., businessman had given $14 million to the College of Business which bears his name.
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Altogether, Gatton's philanthropy to UK totals more than $45 million, but the impact is closer to $57 million because some of his gifts were matched by Kentucky's Bucks for Brains program.
Gatton, 82, a Muhlenberg County native and graduate of UK and the Wharton School of Business, has been generous to other educational causes as well.
Last week he was showered with gratitude and praise by UK officials.
He responded with folksy humility, crediting the many who had given him a hand. "I know there's an awful lot of people who helped me in my business and other things."
Pausing at one point to wipe a tear, he ended with a poem by Will Allen Dromgoole summing up Gatton's commitment to paying it forward:
"This chasm, that has been naught to me,
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him."