Parents of UK Student Show Commitment With One Day for UK Challenge Gift

One Day for UK

By Gail Hairston 

Wednesday, April 17, is One Day for UK. One day ... one gift … one enormous impact at the University of Kentucky!

Alumni, friends, parents, faculty, staff and fans are challenging each other to join forces on April 17 to champion One Day for UK, an inventive 24-hour giving event to generate support for individual colleges, units, programs and inspirational vision at the University of Kentucky.

The inaugural Giving Day encourages donors to support the program that inspires them the most at UK. It might be the college that sparked an alum’s career…or the UK support program that encouraged and sustained someone’s child, nephew or grandchild through a turbulent freshman year…or a new university-wide initiative that speaks to the donor’s mind and heart

For a complete list of the UK colleges and causes taking part in One Day for UK, visit

The One Day for UK campaign will be conducted online, to reach a broader audience, reconnecting with long-term alumni, initiating relationships with recent graduates, as well as motivating its strongest supporters.

Among the strongest supporters are parents of current students.

“Parents and families have a special relationship with the university,” said Nancy Stephens, UK associate director for First-Year Experiences and Family Programs. “Even if they didn’t attend UK, they take immense pride in our institution and its successes. Our parents and families want to support UK in many ways — wearing UK gear, telling others about their student’s experience and making financial gifts to the university.”

Although Colleen and Jay Shekelton are relatively new to the UK “family,” they gifted $5,000 to the Parents Philanthropy Fund, adding a challenge to other UK parents to contribute as well on One Day for UK.

With no previous, “even tenuous,” ties to the University of Kentucky, the family took their first tour with high hopes, and Jay Shekelton said he “immediately” liked the feel of the campus. The university’s goals and values, its efforts to quickly enfold freshmen into the UK family, the diligence it placed on safety and security, the concern UK expressed for a student’s complete well-being, and “the warm and welcoming environment” appealed to a father about to send his first-born off to college. 

“Simply put, all the pieces fit for me. But it was my daughter’s decision, and I didn’t want to say too much,” Shekelton said.

As it turned out, he didn’t have to persuade his daughter; she was “taken” by UK and immediately made plans to become a Wildcat. Shekelton asked his daughter later, “Why UK?”

“She said of all the campuses she visited UK felt like home. That was enough for me, because I felt that warm and welcoming environment myself. Now, she’s trying to convince her younger brother to join her there in Lexington,” he said, chuckling.

As their daughter’s freshman year draws to a close, the Shekeltons wanted to express their commitment to UK through their gift to the Parents Philanthropy Fund and the challenge to other parents.

“Colleen and I wanted to get started right away supporting UK with our donation, to help in any way the university chose to invest our gift. We hope the challenge aspect of our gift will inspire others,” Shekelton said.

“We love it all,” said Colleen Shekelton, “the academic programs, the social services, everything about UK. We told them that we trusted UK to use our gift to improve student services, and we encourage other parents of current students to give as well.”

Donations to the 24-hour fundraising event will be accepted from midnight April 17 to 11:59 p.m. April 17 EDT. All gifts will be made through The site has a tracker that shows the countdown clock for the 24 hours of giving. A list of funds and challenges and a feed showing social media posts hashtagged #OneDayforUK is also available. The donation site will not be live and able to accept donations until April 17. However, donors can make a gift before April 17 at Once the gift information is complete, donors can check a box to have their gift applied to the overall One Day for UK total.

Donors can maximize their donation by taking advantage of gift-matching opportunities and challenges at

Anyone can become an Ambassador for One Day for UK. One could change their social media profile to reflect support for One Day for UK; spread the word with hashtag #OneDayforUK, or prominently share the One Day for UK website; or make a gift and encourage others to follow suit.

For more information, visit

It only takes one — one day, one gift — to make a difference. Be the one who shows the world what Kentucky can do.

Kentucky Can: The 21st Century Campaign is a comprehensive campaign focused on increasing opportunities for student success, funding innovative research, improving health care, strengthening our alumni network, and supporting our athletic programs.

This story originally appeared in UKNOW on April 11, 2019.

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