Making a Difference: Don Ball and Pearse Lyons
KET remembers supporters Don Ball and Pearse Lyons
Don Ball, the founder of Lexington-based Ball Homes, and Pearse Lyons, the native Irish entrepreneur who founded the international animal nutrition firm Alltech Inc., passed away this spring. They leave behind indelible marks not only on the Kentuckians who knew and respected them — but also upon the heart of KET and all we serve.
For years, both men devoted both time and resources to helping KET achieve its mission. To mark their passing, KET is presenting this retrospective of their support and, by extension, the educational well-being of countless Kentuckians young and old.
Don Ball: A genial host and generous supporter
Ball and his wife, Mira, founded Ball Homes in 1959 building thousands of homes across the state. Still family-owned, the business ranks as one of the top builders in the nation.
The Balls have been generous philanthropists, supporting causes such as homelessness, addiction recovery, the University of Kentucky and the Urban League. Their support of KET dates back three decades.
In addition to supporting programs, the Balls are lead contributors to KET’s Lucille Little Arts Endowment and the John R. Hall Endowment for
They hosted KET’s first Summer Celebration fundraiser on their Donamire Farm, and have continued to host the event for most of its 30 years.
Education. Mira Ball was a founding member of the Commonwealth Fund for KET Board of Directors, and continues to serve today.
“It’s hard to imagine Summer Celebration without the support of Don Ball behind us,” said Shae Hopkins, KET’s executive director. “We will always be
grateful for his presence in our lives and for his interest and kindness.”
Pearse Lyons: From Ireland to the Bluegrass
Lyons, born in Ireland’s County Louth, immigrated to Lexington in 1972. As a scientist trained as a brewer, he saw an opportunity to apply his yeast fermentation expertise to animal nutrition challenges, and he and his wife, Deirdre, founded Alltech Inc. in 1980.
Today that business has expanded worldwide. And as it grew, Lyons also became an ardent unofficial ambassador for Kentucky, becoming instrumental in bringing the World Equestrian Games to Lexington in 2010.
As a supporter of KET, he served on the Commonwealth Fund for KET Board of Directors from 2008 to 2010, just one of three boards, at the time, he served on internationally.
“Dr. Lyons’ values and those of KET are closely matched; both care about the quality of life of the people here in our state,” noted Hopkins. “He grew to love Kentucky as much as any native of the Commonwealth.”
The Lyonses were honorary chairs of the 2011 Summer Celebration, and Alltech is a longtime financial sponsor of the event and other KET fundraisers, including TeleFund and the Fund for Excellence annual football tailgate party.
In addition, Alltech is a lead contributor to KET’s Endowment for Kentucky Productions and currently sponsors the broadcasts of Nature, Nova, BBC World News, PBS Arts and A Grand Night for Singing.