Young at Hearth senior of the year
Bradford shows OSU devotion in volunteer work
Kay Bradford is the winner of the 2012 Young at Heart Senior of the Year Award. Bradford has logged more than 5,000 volunteer hours with the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and currently volunteers at the Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Center. Buy This Photo
Like most people from these parts, Upper Arlington resident Kay Bradford loves Ohio State.
She can be found at the Horseshoe every football Saturday cheering on the Buckeyes.
But Bradford displays her support of the university in a more important and tangible way.
A volunteer at the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University since the mid-1980s, Bradford, 87, has more than 5,000 service hours to her credit.
“I get much more of the benefit from my volunteer work than I give,” she said. “It’s very fulfilling.”
Bradford is being recognized for her volunteer work with the 2012 Young at Heart Senior of the Year award.
She will be honored at the 18th annual Young at Heart Festival, sponsored by ThisWeek Community News. The festival will be part of the 10TV Health & Fitness Expo, which will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 18 and 19 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
“I have always volunteered in some capacity or another,” Bradford said. “I was a stay-at-home mom, so I had the time. In my day, people volunteered more. There were fewer working women than there is today.”
She was involved in the creation 27 years ago of the medical center’s service board and is a past president of the board.
“The board is very important,” Bradford said. “It makes friends for the hospital and raises funds for services the hospital can’t fund on its own.”
When friends of hers who volunteered at the medical center asked if she would be willing to give her time, it was natural to say yes, she said.
Her family had “always received our doctoring” from the physicians at OSU, “and were always pleased with the care we received,” Bradford said. “I had made some very good friends on the staff.”
She first volunteered at the center’s Surgical Intensive Care Unit, primarily working with patients’ families, helping and comforting them through a difficult time.
Many of the patients who came to the SICU were accident victims or had suffered serious burns, Bradford said.
“It was such rewarding work,” she said. “I never left the hospital that I didn’t realize my problems were small compared to the patients and their families.”
During her years volunteering at the SICU, both her husband and son died, Bradford said, which helped her empathize even more with the families she assisted.
Bradford also has volunteered at the medical center’s Medical Intensive Care Unit and has served as an ambassador.
She now volunteers every Wednesday at the Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Center’s radiation and oncology department.
“We have a few men who come in, but 99 percent of our patients are women,” Bradford said. “This is a complete breast cancer care unit and I greet the women when they come in.
“I am a breast cancer survivor myself,” she said. “No one knows exactly what someone with breast cancer is going through, but I can understand somewhat and maybe I can help ease their mind.”
Deborah Broeker, assistant to OSU football coach Urban Meyer, nominated Bradford for the Senior of the Year award.
“I got to know her back in the 1990s when she volunteered in the Department of Athletics development area,” Broeker said. “She was amazing.
“She had twice the energy of other people who were half her age,” she said. “Kay always brought a smile and an enthusiasm to the office that rubbed off on everybody else.”
Bradford’s commitment to helping others can serve as a model and inspiration to others, said Jane Federer, director of volunteer services at the medical center.
“What really stands out about Kay is her dedication to the university,” Federer said. “A lot of people say they love and support Ohio State, but she puts her love into action.”
Only two other currently serving volunteers have more hours than Bradford, she said.
“Volunteering is a big part of my life,” Bradford said. “I think it should be a big part of everyone’s life.
“It irritates me when I hear someone say, ‘I’m bored to death,’ ” she added.
“There’s so much in this world to do,” Bradford said. “Get out there and volunteer. It doesn’t have to be at a hospital. Schools, food pantries, churches – they all need the help of volunteers.”
In addition to her work at OSU, Bradford also volunteers at First Community Church and plays tennis as often as she can.
And going to OSU football games?
“I love going to the football games. That’s not volunteering,” Bradford said, laughing. “I also try to go to as many basketball games as I can. I love this university and watching the games helps keep me feeling young.”