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Why I Give: Milt Cole

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Milt Cole, Logansport, Ind.

When you walk past the lumber warehouses and into the office at Cole Hardwood in Logansport, Ind., don’t be surprised if owner Milt Cole takes just moments to tell you he loves you. “I love everyone,” Cole likes to say. “I don’t respect everyone, because you’ve got to earn that—but I love everyone !”

Cole’s big heart has inspired him to donate generously to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.

“In my opinion, Riley Hospital does the best job in the country. Bar none,” explains Cole. “Anyone who wraps themselves up in a ‘me’ package is not very pretty. No one has a value of more than $5 of minerals and chemicals in their body. The only thing we’re measured by is what good we do with what abilities we have.”

Cole and his wife of nearly 60 years, Jean, have witnessed Riley’s exceptional care on a personal level. Their granddaughter, Sabra, was treated at Riley for type 1 diabetes, and her sister Tori, underwent lifesaving open-heart surgery at Riley as an infant. Both girls are now adults and in excellent health. “It means a lot that I can give back [to Riley] for what they gave me,” says the girls’ father, Randy Cole. “They gave my daughters back to me.”

Those Riley family ties, however strong, are not the sole reason for the Cole family’s philanthropic support. Milt Cole likes to share his larger vision with his employees: “I never close a meeting without saying, ‘We’re all on a stairway of life. No one ever attains the top. But if you’ll reach back and pull up at least four people who are in the stairway below you, you elevate yourself, you elevate that person, you elevate your local community and society in general.’”

How does it make him feel to “elevate society” by giving to Riley Hospital? Milt Cole sums it up with one emotion-filled word: “Enormous.”

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