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Tim and Betsy Katen

Answered prayer spurs couple's support for St. Jude

In uncertain times, one family gave to St. Jude anyway—and was richly rewarded. 

Tim and Betsy Katen’s lives are a testament to faith—in each other, in hard work and in God. Indeed, their story hearkens back to that of Danny Thomas, a struggling entertainer with a devout belief who prayed to a patron saint for career advice with spectacular results. In gratitude, Thomas founded St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a worldwide beacon of hope for children suffering from catastrophic diseases.

Tim could have settled easily into a successful career with an established business, but he chose instead, with the help of his wife, to blaze his own path. “Tim has always had an entrepreneurial spirit,” Betsy explains.

In 1978, Tim borrowed money to start a company from a rented Pennsylvania garage, designing and making molds for small plastic parts to go in computers and other products. Tim jokes that, to get his loan, the bank had to take “everything but my wife.” ("It’s a good thing they didn’t—she’s an incredible ally.")

Then in 1982, the recession hit. The Katen family, shortly after the birth of their third child, worried about whether their business would survive.

Inspired by Thomas, Tim and Betsy prayed to St. Jude Thaddeus for guidance and help. As an act of faith, they began donating $15 a month to the hospital.

“We first heard about St. Jude while watching a telethon,” Betsy says. “We were touched by the stories of the children and the medical conditions that they were facing.”

Circumstances may have made their livelihoods temporarily uncertain, but the Katens were thankful for what they had. Their children were happy and healthy, and their hearts ached for the families at St. Jude.

So they gave…and never stopped giving. During the next 10 to 15 years, their business prospered. Tim even opened a second company. The two flourishing firms now employ more than 130 people.

As the Katens’ financial means have grown, they’ve substantially increased their cash contributions to the hospital.

Like Thomas, the Katen family believes that St. Jude Thaddeus answered their prayers. “Many prayers were said to St. Jude, and our prayers were heard,” Betsy says.

Tim and Betsy are proud to have instilled a philanthropic spirit in their three children. Their oldest child, Philip, already donates to St. Jude. Betsy explains that they’re eager to help others “because we can.”

She adds, “What if it were me? I would want others to help.”

A recent visit to the hospital further reinforced the Katens’ dedication to giving. Betsy remembers the smile of one boy on a tricycle, who proudly declared that he’d be going home soon.  “It made us feel good to be part of the family who helped this little boy,” she says.

 

To learn more about making a gift to St. Jude or other planned giving opportunities, call ALSAC Gift Planning at (800) 395-1087 or e-mail giftplanning@stjude.org.

Reprinted from Autumn 2006 Promise.