The Biggest Heart for the Greatest Need

May 30, 2018

A $1.8 million estate gift is allowing St. Jude to seize a timely opportunity

Karen Stokx had a big heart. Whether helping her nephews buy their first car or securing a new roof for her church, when Karen saw a need, she was willing to step up and help.

A devout Catholic, Karen had deep admiration for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange and their mission to care for the vulnerable. It compelled her to make her first gift to St. Jude in 2006, toward our Care for Poor programs.

“Karen loved the work that St. Jude did in the underserved communities,” says her nephew, Randy Stokx. “She especially liked the mobile clinic – anything that was out there helping people, she was all about.”

As Karen got to know St. Jude, she realized her impact could go even further to improve the health of the whole community. She began designating her gifts to “where the need is greatest,” providing St. Jude with crucial flexibility to address its most pressing needs and emerging opportunities.

“Karen recognized that advancements and priorities in health care change rapidly,” says Susan Smith, vice president of philanthropy and chief development officer for St. Jude Medical Center. “She trusted the hospital to use her gifts where they would make the most difference. She was very selfless in that way.”

Over the years, Karen’s purposeful flexibility helped fund construction of the Northwest Towers, acquisition of cutting-edge technology and expansion of critical programs. During the last years of her life, Karen’s commitment to excellent health care came full circle, as she herself became a patient of James Benoit, MD, board-certified in family medicine and president of St. Jude Heritage Medical Group.

As her primary care physician, Dr. Benoit helped manage Karen’s declining health and significantly improved her quality of life. Karen trusted Dr. Benoit so much that even after moving to Texas to live with relatives, her family would take regular road trips back to St. Jude just to have appointments with him.

“Karen was incredibly grateful to Dr. Benoit, as were all of us in the family,” says Randy. “Under his care, her health got dramatically better, which made our time left with her so much more meaningful.”

Karen passed away in 2017 at age 79. But even now, she is helping those in need. In her gratitude, Karen made a $1.8 million estate gift to St. Jude—and like her past gifts, she wished for it to be used “where the need is greatest.”

St. Jude is fulfilling Karen’s wish. Her generosity has opened the opportunity to purchase a much-needed, third da Vinci Surgical System to serve a growing number of patients requiring high precision robotic surgery.

In recognition of Karen’s estate gift, the hospital and St. Jude Heritage medical group named the Stokx Family Reception Center—located in the St. Jude Sunnycrest Family Practice where Dr. Benoit practices—in her honor. At the blessing ceremony, several family members shared memories of Karen.

“Karen was a quiet giver, but I think that reflected her true sense of service,” Randy says. “She supported St. Jude because she wanted a place for people to go where they felt safe and comfortable in their care. By leaving this gift in her legacy, Karen’s helping heart will be forever remembered.”

Curious about legacy giving? Contact the Memorial Foundation at (714) 992-3033.

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