Press Release Contact: Richard A. Lechleiter
March 9, 2023



Best-Ever Result Roars Past Previous Year Record of $1.4 Million

(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) – The Catholic Education Foundation of the Archdiocese of Louisville (the “Foundation”) today announced that its 33rd annual Salute to Catholic School Alumni Dinner (the “Salute”) established a new high in funds raised in support of its mission.

Held on the evening of March 8 in the Grand Ballroom of downtown Louisville’s Galt House Hotel, the Salute hosted a sell-out crowd of nearly 1,400 guests, continuing its tradition as a hallmark community event in the Commonwealth.

This year’s event soared to a historic record of $1.5 million in net proceeds, rocketing past the previous year record of $1.4 million. Foundation President Richard A. Lechleiter remarked, “From our modest beginnings in 1990, this incredible event is now lifting the hopes and dreams of thousands of young Catholic school students and their families through the life-changing gift of a Catholic education. We are truly humbled by this amazing result and thank God for its unprecedented success.”

All of the funds from the Salute will be used to provide tuition assistance to families who cannot afford the full cost of a Catholic elementary education for their children. Last fall, the Foundation and its partners supported an all-time high 3,600 elementary students throughout the Archdiocese of Louisville’s 39 Catholic schools with a record $7.7 million in tuition assistance.

This record-breaking event was chaired by Mr. Randall J. Bufford, Founder and Chairman of Louisville-based Trilogy Health Services. “The Bufford Family Foundation and our team at Trilogy Health Services couldn’t be more proud to support the great works of the Catholic Education Foundation. Each day, this organization is working hard to transform the lives of thousands of young children right here in our own community who need our help. My wife Susan and I are honored to pay forward the gift that so profoundly impacted the lives of our children.” 

The event also featured a keynote address by Father Mike Schmitz, host of the popular podcast series, “Bible in a Year”. Foundation Board Chair Todd A. Klimek remarked, “How very generous of Father Mike to make the journey to Louisville and energize this powerful event! No wonder his podcast series has over 20 million downloads world-wide!!”

Mr. Lechleiter noted that the organization’s home-grown slogan – “The Answer is YES!” – has become a mandate to assist every family who reaches out to the Foundation. “Thanks to our unrelenting donors, in each of the last eight years, every student who reached out to us – and qualified for tuition assistance – in fact earned an award. Every single one! What could be better for our young families and our community!”


The Salute also was highlighted by its recognition of six distinguished honorees whose success in life was nurtured by their Catholic education. The Salute Class of 2023 included: 

William Pike Conway, Jr. (St. Joseph School, Bardstown, KY) – President and Dealer Principal, Conway-Heaton, Inc.

Dr. Cynthia R. Crabtree (Angela Merici High School) – Past President, Sacred Heart Schools

Honorable Audra J. Eckerle (Sacred Heart Academy) – Kentucky Court of Appeals

Susan M. Gatz, SCN (Presentation Academy) – Sisters of Charity of Nazareth

Thomas A. Perrone (Saint Xavier High School) – Managing Director, Perrone Wealth Management Group at Morgan Stanley

Patrick M. Potter (Trinity High School) – President, Flexo Wash

The Foundation also honored Greg M. Gitschier, Deacon, St. Patrick and St. Boniface Parishes and Chaplain, Louisville Metro Police, with its distinguished Community Service Award. Fifth Third Bank of Kentucky served as the award sponsor for the 22nd year.

Terry R. Rogan, a teacher at St. Gregory School in Cox’s Creek, Kentucky, received the 2023 Father Joseph McGee Award as the outstanding Catholic school educator in the Archdiocese of Louisville. Norton Healthcare served as the award sponsor for the 14th consecutive year.

The Most Reverend Shelton J. Fabre, Archbishop of Louisville, remarked, “We are deeply grateful to our entire central Kentucky community for their enormous generosity toward the mission of the Foundation. This ever-increasing support will enable us to help thousands of families provide the gift of a Catholic education to their children. The unique Catholic school experience that connects Faith, Family and Learning truly provides an education that lasts a lifetime. Indeed, “The Answer is YES!”

For the second consecutive year, Louisville-based ISCO Industries served as the Presenting Sponsor of the event with an investment of $75,000. Mr. James J. Kirchdorfer, ISCO’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, noted, “My brother Mark and I are thrilled that our company could serve as the Presenting Sponsor of this prestigious event. Here at ISCO, many of our team members are Catholic school graduates and we think it makes so much sense to invest in one of our community’s greatest treasures – Catholic education!”

Major benefactors of this year’s Salute, each of whom contributed from $25,000 to $50,000, include Fifth Third Bank of Kentucky (founding benefactor); Norton Healthcare; AirHydro Power; Brown–Forman Corporation; The Bufford Family Foundation; Jill and Chris Burckle; Caldwell Tanks and Preload; D3 Foundation; Dahlem; Joseph and Sherry Dougherty; David and Cathy Durik; The Galt House Hotel; The Glenview Trust Company; David and Jennie Heintzman; the Klimek Family; the Kramer Family; Sarah and John Lechleiter; Louisville Thoroughbred Society; Manna, Inc.; Keith and Jeanie Mouser; Bill and Michelle Mudd; the Ramsey Family; Karen and Hank Robinson; the Sautel Family; SCJ Fiduciary Services; Len and Susan Spalding; Brad and Charlotte Stengel; Stock Yards Bank and Trust Co.; the Ulmer Family; Willis–Klein Companies; Tom and Rhonda Wimsett; and the Richard Lechleiter Family.

About the Catholic Education Foundation

For over 200 years, Catholic schools have contributed significantly to the social, spiritual and economic fabric of our entire community.  The Catholic Education Foundation is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to the growth and vitality of Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Louisville.  Since 1999, the Foundation has awarded over $51 million in support of Catholic education.  Visit the Foundation at www.ceflou.org.