When Richie Amato was 50, he and his wife, Kathy, asked Richie’s physician about doing a baseline stress test just to check things out. The test revealed some issues that required follow-up. Richie, CEO of O.S.T. Trucking in Baltimore, decided to seek care at Johns Hopkins. After seeing cardiologist Roger Blumenthal, M.D., he was referred to cardiac surgeon William Baumgartner, M.D., who performed a double bypass operation in September 1994.
Now living in Crofton, Maryland, the Amatos say they developed close bonds with both physicians and have been loyal supporters of the Johns Hopkins Heart and Vascular Institute since 1995, donating in recent years directly through their individual retirement accounts. They spoke recently with Pulse.
Q: Can you tell us about your experience with the doctors and staff members at Johns Hopkins?
Kathy: We came to Johns Hopkins because we knew its reputation. We were very fortunate to be introduced to Roger Blumenthal, who we developed a great relationship with, and we were more than fortunate to have Dr. Baumgartner do Richie’s surgery. Dr. Baumgartner was absolutely wonderful. He was a skilled doctor and so humble, with a wonderful bedside manner. He made us feel so comfortable.
Q: How did you become donors to Johns Hopkins?
Richie: Roger Blumenthal at the time was involved with a yearly fundraiser called Heartfest. That’s what actually started our giving. We went to the first Heartfest in 1995. From there, we graduated into donating every year.
Q: What has inspired you to continue giving, year after year?
Kathy: We have a great rapport with Dr. Blumenthal. He is Richie’s cardiologist to this day. Through learning about the heart center, we realized the importance of research. We made a decision to put our charitable donations each year toward the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease because of the great service we received, and continue to receive, at Johns Hopkins. Without heart research, a lot of folks, my husband probably included, wouldn’t be here today.
Q: How do you feel that your gifts have made an impact?
Kathy: We feel that without contributions like ours, the research wouldn’t happen. For example, it took a lot of research to develop the implantable defibrillators that have saved so many lives. Without research, there wouldn’t be implantable defibrillators. (See related story.)
Q: What would you tell others considering a gift to the Heart and Vascular Institute?
Kathy: For the last several years, we have asked our family, in lieu of gifts, to give to the Ciccarone Center. They have done so, because we believe so much in Johns Hopkins and the research and the care that they provide.
Richie: I would tell them that, one day, I think researchers at Johns Hopkins are going to cure cardiovascular disease.