Advocating for World Class Care in Florida

Kathryn Vecellio was first introduced to Cleveland Clinic nearly 50 years ago, when her father underwent emergency double bypass heart surgery while she was on her honeymoon with her husband Leo. Rushing to be by her father’s side, she spent the first month of her marriage at Cleveland Clinic with her mother and father, Maxine and Dr. Clarence C. Cottrill, while he recovered.

“The medical care my father received in 1975 and over the next 10 years of his life was wonderful,” says Kathryn. “That certainly leaves a lasting impression.”

Kathryn has also been a Cleveland Clinic patient since 1975. She had her first aortic valve replacement surgery in 1997, a second valve replacement surgery in 2004 and her last valve replacement surgery in 2019.

Whenever anyone asks Kathryn about her long history at Cleveland Clinic or her surgeries, she enthusiastically explains, “My parents always believed, and taught me, that you go to the hospital that is number one in dealing with your specific health problem, and in my case, Cleveland Clinic is indisputably number one.”

In gratitude for the extraordinary care she and her father received, Kathryn, Leo and their sons Christopher and Michael, have supported Cleveland Clinic with their time and generous gifts.

“Philanthropy is a normal part of my family’s life. Leo and I were raised in families that supported their communities, and we, along with our sons, have been privileged to be able to help support Cleveland Clinic,” says Kathryn.

A Meaningful Partnership

Since its founding in 1921, Cleveland Clinic’s mission has been, “better care of the sick, investigation of their problems and further education of those who serve.”

Philanthropy has been instrumental in fulfilling its mission over the last century. Compassionate benefactors have provided crucial resources to seed discoveries, build leading-edge facilities and deliver care that has changed and saved lives.

Kathryn and Leo are members of Cleveland Clinic’s distinguished 1921 Society. Founded in 2005, the 1921 Society was launched as a community of donors who have made lifetime gifts of $1 million or more to Cleveland Clinic. Today, there are more than 700 individuals, families, corporations and foundations in this remarkable group.

Along with the family’s generous philanthropic support, Kathryn has served on the leadership board of the Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute in Cleveland. When Cleveland Clinic expanded into West Palm Beach, she broadened her focus, and became an active, engaged member of the West Palm Beach Leadership Council for 12 years and now serves on the Cleveland Clinic Weston Board.

As an advocate for Cleveland Clinic’s work in Florida, Kathryn has played a key role in introducing new patients to Cleveland Clinic, supporting the annual Florida Ball, as well as hosting events in the family’s home and on their yacht, Lady Kathryn V. Both Kathryn and Leo have chaired the ball, and at this year’s event on February 24, they will serve as grand honorary chairmen.

A tradition at the Florida Ball is to honor the Sydell L. Miller award recipient, which celebrates those who have committed wholeheartedly to supporting Cleveland Clinic Florida and its mission of caring for life, researching for health, and educating those who serve. Award recipients have made extraordinary contributions to Cleveland Clinic Florida, expanding its reach to countless patients.

In 2014, Kathryn’s visionary leadership was recognized with the Sydell L. Miller award and, at the ball this year, the Vecellio family will be honored with the award for their unwavering commitment to Cleveland Clinic Florida.

Leading by Example

The Vecellio family has set a remarkable standard for community engagement and social responsibility. Their generosity and their philanthropic spirit have inspired others to join in the collective effort to build a healthier and more compassionate world.

“I am alive today because of Cleveland Clinic, my excellent cardiologists and my fabulous surgeons,” says Kathryn. “These events over the past 30-plus years are why my husband, sons and I decided to support critical hospital priorities.”

With the support of ardent philanthropists like Kathryn and Leo Vecellio and their family, Cleveland Clinic can accomplish its mission to transform healthcare for our patients and shape the future of medicine in Florida and around the world.