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Making a Difference: Worthwhile Causes

As a child, Lora Suttles began supporting KET

Growing up in the Carter County town of Grayson, Lora Suttles loved nothing more than to hang out with her brother John and watch their favorite KET programs, which included The Electric Company, Mister Rogers Neighborhood and British dramas and comedies.

Photo of Lora Suttles

One memory she recalls vividly: She was 11 or 12 years old, and KET was airing a pledge drive. She saw the phone banks on TV, lined with volunteers taking calls. An address flashed on the screen, showing where donations could be sent.

“For some reason it moved me,” Suttles said. “And I worried that if I didn’t give a donation, KET would go off the air.”

So she grabbed an envelope, addressed it to KET, and placed a single dollar bill inside. The next day, her mom took her to the post office and helped her mail the letter.

“I was a shy child, so I didn’t include a note or anything — just the dollar,” Suttles laughed. “I can only imagine the look on the face of the person who opened it and found what was inside.”

Suttles now lives in Paintsville, where she serves as the chief administrator for McDonalds of East Kentucky, a franchise group comprising 15 restaurants and more than 700 employees.

And years after sending in that single dollar bill, Suttles remains a proponent of KET’s mission, as a donor and as president-elect of the Friends of KET Board, which advocates for KET in communities across the state.

“I’m inspired by how KET has grown into what it is today,” Suttles said. “Len Press’ mission to bring education to the rural parts of the state — that really resonates with me because I’m from a very small town. And I saw the obstacles that people face in those regions.”

“I’ve seen how KET opens doors for people, particularly here in the mountains. That’s what KET did for me as a child — it opened my mind and allowed me to go places and experience things I never otherwise would have had a chance to do or see.”

Lora Suttles

It was something she witnessed in her own household.

Her father quit school after the eighth grade to work in the tobacco fields. And her mother — “the smartest woman I’ve ever known,” she said — quit after high school.

Despite this, her parents were adamant that their children continue their education, regardless of the financial strain it might impose on the family.

It’s a lesson that stayed with Suttles throughout her life, prompting her to throw herself into the causes she’s passionate about: the Kentucky Historical Society, Kentucky Christian University, the Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, the Governor’s Scholars Program, and her favorite television network, KET.

“I’ve seen how KET opens doors for people, particularly here in the mountains,” Suttles said. “That’s what KET did for me as a child — it opened my mind and allowed me to go places and experience things I never otherwise would have had a chance to do or see. And I think if my parents were still around, they’d be proud because they too believed so strongly in KET.”