Blair Tolar

Initiated By:
Initiated by Baptist Health

Blair Tolar, MD, was busy caring for patients at Baptist Health Paducah when he felt a sharp pain in his chest. The pain subsided after a few minutes, but the longtime OBGYN didn’t feel well the rest of the day. 

Eventually Dr. Tolar headed to the Emergency Department, where it was determined he had suffered a tear in the heart’s main artery, and immediate surgery was required. Quick, cutting-edge, compassionate care saved his life — and for that he is grateful.

“I am incredibly grateful for the entire team at Baptist,” he says — from the emergency room staff to the surgeons, from ICU nurses to physical therapists, and every other caregiver he encountered along the way. “Quite simply, I want them to know how truly grateful I am. They all participated in their own ways to save my life.”

The long list of Baptist Health caregivers for whom he’s thankful includes cardiothoracic surgeon Austin Ward, MD, who performed a life-saving surgery, as well as physical therapist assistant JoAnne Pellarin, who encouraged him to overcome challenges early on in his recovery.

“I will not forget when I told JoAnn that I did not feel like walking. She stayed there and would not let me sit,” says Dr. Tolar, adding that she was not intimated or deterred by the fact that he was a physician and chief of surgery at the hospital. “I was grateful that JoAnn did not let me stay in bed. She made me walk, and I am grateful for that.”

Saying ‘thanks’ is one thing.  But sharing gratitude can change people.

Myra Thompson

Initiated By:
Initiated by Baptist Health

Myra Thompson’s struggle with depression began in adolescence. At the age of 16, the high-achieving student says she confided in a counselor that she felt suicidal: “I was put into a psychiatric facility for two weeks. After that, I promised I wouldn’t tell anyone ever again.”

It would be years before she finally got the right diagnosis and treatment — life-changing care she found at Baptist Health. “There are people here waiting to help you and they want you to succeed,” she says. “I am living proof, and for that I will always be grateful.”

Myra was inspired to seek help after seeing her youngest daughter, 16 at the time, advocate for herself. After an incorrect diagnosis elsewhere, she visited Baptist Health, where was diagnosed with ADHD and a proper treatment plan was established. “The change in her is a complete 180.” 

In turn, Myra visited Baptist Health, where she says providers — particularly mental health nurse practitioner Trenten Hale — were caring and truly listened. She was diagnosed and began treatment for ADHD, eliminating past medications that were “just Band-Aids.” 

“It has changed my entire life,” says Myra, whose gratitude is palpable. “Just knowing that I’m better opens up a whole new world for me, and I’m happy. I’ve never felt that before. It impacts my relationship with everything: my jobs, my family, everything.”

There are people here waiting to help you and they want you to succeed. I am living proof, and for that I will always be grateful.

Michelle Parke

Initiated By:
Initiated by Baptist Health

Michelle Parke says gratitude is at the forefront of her mental health journey. 

“When you deal with anxiety and depression, it is often challenging to see what is good in your life vs. what’s going wrong (or could go wrong),” she explains. That’s why she keeps a gratitude journal in which she lists at least three things she’s grateful for every day. 

First and foremost, she says, “I am grateful for the tools I’ve been given to navigate my healing journey to be more empowered, and maybe more importantly, knowing it’s OK to ask for help.”

Over the years, Michelle sporadically alternated between counseling and medication to treat depression and anxiety, always with fleeting results. It wasn’t until she sought help at Baptist Health that she began to make sustainable progress through combined treatments — and for that she is grateful.

Living a life of gratitude has enhanced Michelle’s emotional, spiritual and physical wellbeing, and she says it’s improved all areas of her life — particularly in her role as a single mom to a 16-year-old daughter with special needs. 

“Gratitude is so important because it is a give and take situation, because life goes in cycles,” she says. “Sometimes we are on the receiving end, while other times we are the ones giving. It is all a beautiful way of living.”

Gratitude is so important because it is a give and take situation, because life goes in cycles.

Jennifer Adams

Initiated By:
Initiated by Baptist Health

Jennifer Adams has faced a tremendous amount of trauma, but she’s a survivor — and for that she is grateful. “Having survived child abuse, then 11 years of abuse at the hands of my daughter’s father, and being homeless when we escaped, it’s easy to find gratitude,” she says. “It’s all around us, every day.”

Trauma can make you bitter or grateful, Jennifer believes, and she’s chosen the latter: She’s grateful for the tutoring program that helped her get her GED, for the junky old car that carried her to safety, for relatives who provided shelter when she was homeless, for the nonprofit that helped her get back on her feet, and for her husband: “He is my best friend and he loves my daughter as his own. Our marriage is founded on respect and boundaries, something I had never experienced before.”

Due to what she calls the “unfortunate societal stigma” attached to behavioral health, it took years before Jennifer sought help with healing the wounds of her past. But she’s grateful that she’s now healing and living her truth, thanks in large part to the care she’s received at Baptist Health — a place where she immediately sensed a genuine concern for her wellbeing.

“Gratitude can be found everywhere. It’s just a matter of perspective. Most of us have experienced difficulties in life. Disappointment, heartache, grief and trauma are the catalysts that either break us or drive us to overcome and persevere.”

Jennifer says she’s candid about her life story because: “Without knowing the extent of what the Lord has delivered me from, I feel you could never grasp just how grateful I am for being delivered from it. I am most grateful for the peace and joy I have found in placing my trust in Jesus Christ and that He is able to restore everything that was once broken.”

Gratitude can be found everywhere. It’s just a matter of perspective.

Jason Stolz

Initiated By:
Initiated by Baptist Health

The Stolz family is naturally competitive, especially when it comes to athletics. But when 10-year-old Skyler began having outbursts on the softball field, her dad knew something was wrong. “In her mind, if it wasn’t the intended success, she would have an outburst that wouldn’t stop,” says Jason Stolz, describing the behavior as a compulsive need for perfection.  

They sought help at Baptist Health, where Skyler was able to begin receiving behavioral health treatment right away. Through a combination of therapy and medication, she’s made great strides — and for that, the Stolz family is grateful.

“We started seeing a huge difference in her behavior,” says Jason, who is especially thankful for his daughter’s therapist and nurse practitioner, both of whom have been “a tremendous help.”  

The positive experience with Baptist Health’s behavioral health program has inspired Jason, a youth softball coach, to change his approach to mentoring kids: “I realized I can make a difference for a child in coaching by recognizing personalities and what works with those kids.” He’s also organizing a softball tournament to benefit mental health awareness.

And according to Jason, that’s gratitude in action: “Gratitude is an experience that you can share and give back. There is not a much better feeling than being thankful and showing expressions by giving back.”

Gratitude is an experience that you can share and give back.

George Boyd

Initiated By:
Initiated by Baptist Health

After University of Kentucky student George Boyd had a disappointing experience seeking psychiatric care while away at college, he turned to Baptist Health for the compassionate treatment he needed. He began seeing Jennifer Whittington, APRN at Baptist Health, and it’s been “amazing.”

“She’s phenomenal. I’m really thankful for her,” George says of the psychiatric nurse practitioner, whom he sees both in person and via telehealth. “From the moment I walked in the door, she’s been so kind, so understanding. When I expressed I was having a hard time, she showed empathy. I was more than just a number.”

In recent years, George has navigated some tumultuous times, made more difficult by healthcare encounters that left him feeling “lost in the shuffle.” Those past experiences have made him even more grateful for where he is today: “I am now getting the best care at Baptist Health.” 

In addition to being grateful for quality mental health care, George is thankful for his parents — and the fact that their relationship has grown even stronger despite the difficulties they’ve faced. “They were always there for me when I needed it.”

These days, George makes it a priority to show his gratitude often, something he hopes will “have a snowball effect, strengthen the community, and foster an environment of care and compassion.”

When I see other people showing gratitude, it gives me some hope.

Everett Murphy

Initiated By:
Initiated by Baptist Health

Everett Murphy has faced a difficult journey since he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a rare blood cancer, back in 2016. “It’s been rough,” he admits in recounting his long list of treatments, including a stem cell transplant and two types of chemotherapy. And though he currently is undergoing weekly treatments for a recurrence of cancer, Everett is grateful he’s beaten the odds so far.

“I’m thankful I’m still alive,” says the 74-year-old Baptist Health patient. In recounting all he has to be grateful for, he begins with the little things: still being able to mow his lawn, helping neighbors with odd jobs, fishing on his bass boat.

“I thank God every day for every day I get,” says Everett, adding that prayer has lightened the load during tough times. “I’d hate to think I’d have to go through this and not have anybody to talk to during this time of need.”

But most of all, he’s grateful for the love of family, including a “wonderful wife” who takes care of him, and his 14-year-old grandson. “I spend as much time as I can with him,” says Everett, who is teaching his grandson how to fish — and “thanking God every day” for the opportunity to do so.

I thank God every day for every day I get.

Bryan O’Brien

Initiated By:
Initiated by Baptist Health

When Bryan O’Brien’s struggle with alcoholism landed him in the Baptist Health Richmond ICU, he says the courtesy and professionalism shown by physicians, nurses and staff was incredible: “Truly, they saved my life!”
Despite never winning any “patient of the day” award for his demeanor, he jokes, the Baptist Health staff exhibited the utmost care, concern and empathy — and for that he is grateful.
Most of all, he’s grateful for loved ones who have stuck by him on his journey from sickness to sobriety. In particular, he’s thankful for his two sisters, who watched over him in the ICU, checked in with his doctors daily, arranged for an intervention, and helped devise a plan for his future.
“They were going above and beyond the day-to-day actions and working for me to have a better life,” says Bryan, who believes “it truly takes a village… and I owe my village a debt of gratitude that can never be paid!”

When Bryan shared his story with Project Gratitude, he was nearing 2,000 days of sobriety. “Each day, I am so grateful for my family and Baptist Health Behavioral Health. They give me the strength and the power to carry on. That is my expression of gratitude!”

I am so grateful for my family and Baptist Health Behavioral Health. They give me the strength and the power to carry on!

Bessie Overbay

Initiated By:
Initiated by Baptist Health

Bessie Overbay had been in remission from melanoma for nearly two decades when she visited a dermatologist for what she thought were some nasty spider bites. However, a biopsy soon revealed that cancer had returned — and this time it was stage 4.

“I just said a prayer and said, ‘We’ll get through this.’ I came home, and once I got myself calmed down, I called Baptist Health,” she says. “Baptist helped ease my fears.” 

Bessie is grateful for the compassionate, cutting-edge care she’s received at Baptist Health.

“You’re in a storm and all of a sudden you realize you’ve calmed down. By them knowing their job and doing it, you’re calmed down and breathing and not swept away in that storm,” she says. “Ever since I started taking treatments, I felt like I was going to be alright.”

Now, nearly a year into treatment, Bessie is in remission. The doctor said her latest scan was “unremarkable” — a word she’s never been so happy or grateful to hear. “This is almost as unbelievable as the diagnosis,” she says. “I’ve been given this second opportunity, I can’t waste it. What can I do? How can I honor this chance I’ve been given?”

Bessie is brimming with gratitude — for the Baptist Health doctors and nurses who treated her with such kindness, and for the advanced technology that’s made her recovery possible: “I couldn’t ask for better.”

Aleisha Allen

Initiated By:
Initiated by Baptist Health

Shortly after Aleisha Allen’s son, Legend, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and ADHD at age 3, she had to quit work and focus full time on meeting her family’s needs. “It was rough,” she admits, and life only got more challenging when her son entered school.

Shortly thereafter, she sought behavioral health treatment for her son at Baptist Health. In less than a year, Legend’s life has been transformed for the better — and for that, Aleisha is incredibly grateful.

“I’m grateful for grace and people and medicine and doctors. You never know how little things will change your life,” she says. “I’m grateful for the everyday interactions Legend has now that he didn’t get to experience before.”

There was a time when the family wasn’t sure Legend would ever talk, Aleisha says. He also had frequent outbursts and was struggling in the classroom. Thanks to his team of providers at Baptist Health, she says her son “has improved tremendously” — his grades skyrocketed, he’s reading at a higher level, and he’s able to enjoy activities such as baseball. 

“We’ve come a long way. We’re grateful he is who he is. We love his personality. Him being able to regulate himself is a huge piece of the puzzle,” she says. “For us, we’re just completely grateful for our village.” A village that includes Baptist Health.

I’m grateful for grace and people and medicine and doctors.