By Amy Geiszler-Jones
Pat Do clarifies he doesn’t want to sound cliché but he and his wife, Sylvia, definitely have “an attitude of gratitude.” “Sylvia and I are very grateful for what we have,” says Pat, an orthopedic surgeon who founded Mid-America Orthopedics in 2000.
They know life can be tough, but providing opportunities for others to reach their potential – much like they were given – is at the heart of their charitable work.
As the couple talks about their philanthropy – efforts they tend to be modest about – the words “blessed” and “grateful” often come up. Pat says they’ll often reflect on their lives with “an attitude of gratitude” whenever they need some emotional perspective.
Again, they don’t want to sound cliché, but they are living what has become known as the American Dream. They started their lives in the U.S. as a refugee and an immigrant, had parents who encouraged them to work hard and get an education and now they are successful members of their community.
As a young boy, Pat and his family (whose last name is pronounced “doe”) came as refugees to the U.S. from Vietnam at the end of the Vietnam War. By the time he was a high school senior in Southern California, Pat was taking solely college courses. Wanting to fast track his course to a medical degree, he enrolled in the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s program that allows one to go from high school to medical student in six years.
Sylvia had similar dreams of a medical career. After graduating high school in Juarez, Mexico, she came to the U.S. to pursue college, earning a nursing degree from San Diego State University-San Diego.
“I always wanted to go to school to become a doctor,” says Sylvia. “I come from a culture where women aren’t always encouraged to go to school.” But her father impressed upon her the importance of education.
The two met in 1995 while working at the Methodist Dallas Medical Center, and then relocated to Kansas City while Sylvia attended the University of Kansas School of Medicine and Pat finished his orthopedic residency.
They were so eager to help others that as soon as Pat established Mid-America Orthopedics in El Dorado in 2000 – while Sylvia was still in med school, they made their first major philanthropic commitment of $20,000 to the new YMCA being built in El Dorado.
“From there our philanthropy grew,” says Pat.
And so did their medical careers, their family and their ties to the Wichita area, causing them to change their plans to relocate to Southern California after Sylvia earned her medical degree. (She honored her father’s support by getting her medical license in the name of Sylvia Orozco-Do.)
Last year, Mid-America Orthopedics opened its fourth location, in Overland Park. It also has locations in east and west Wichita, as well as Derby. (Pat eventually closed the El Dorado practice.) In 2013, he was inducted into the Mid-America Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame for his community involvement and his work as a consultant helping physicians across the country establish and improve their practices.
After med school, Sylvia went on to teach at the KU School of Medicine and has since established her own private practice as an internal medicine physician. The couple has three children – two girls and a son between the ages of 9 and 15.
As part of their philanthropy, they have funded scholarships at Pat’s alma mater, UMKC, in his parents’ names, as well as scholarships at Butler Community College. They have also served on several boards over the past years. Pat recently became a member of Newman University’s board of trustees, while Sylvia is on the boards of Wichita Collegiate School, the Kansas Hispanic Education and Development Foundation, and the Wichita Community Foundation.
Last month, they served as co-chairs of Rainbows United Fashion Passion fundraiser. Earlier this year, they contributed to the capital campaign to relocate and build a new facility for Mark Arts.
Their gift to the Mark Arts campaign reflects Pat’s love of cooking and Sylvia’s love of art. Artwork from her native Mexico can be found throughout their Wilson Estates home. Pat is the featured chef of dinners they contribute as auction items at least four times a year to other Wichita charities. Sometimes they surprise their guests with local VIPs helping in the kitchen, as well. (We’re not naming names because they won’t remain a surprise.)
“I want to spread good mo-jo in the world,” says Pat, about being involved in the community. “I just want everybody around me to be better off for having been around me, from my patients, to my staff to anyone I am around.”
Adds Sylvia: “It’s good karma.”
What it takes to be on the Do list
For Pat and Sylvia Do, two Wichita doctors who have been involved in philanthropy for the past 16 years, getting involved with an organization needs to meet three things, says Sylvia:
No. 1: Does it improve the community? “It’s good to see that there are a lot of other people who want to improve our community, too,” she says.
No. 2: What’s the return on the investment? “And I’m not talking about what do we get for our money, but what does the money do,” she explains. “For example, with Rainbows United, we know it’s going to improve the lives of children.”
No. 3: Is there an opportunity to give back? “That’s why providing scholarships has been important,” Sylvia says. By improving someone’s life through education and helping them become successful, they hope that person will pass on the gratitude and give back. “Then it becomes a circle of giving.”