An intuitive idea formalized into a collaborative six-figure fundraising effort

Louisville Business First selected Independence Bank as one of four honorees to receive its 2023 Business Impact Award. The ceremony, held on November 30, was in conjunction with its Most Admired CEO program.

In short, the editorial organization accepted nominations for local companies making a tangible effort to improve the Louisville area.

Sarah Gant, Independence Bank Customer Service Representative in St. Matthews had the inspiration to take up a collection at our location for LMPD Officer Nick Wilt. He sustained critical injuries in spring of 2023 while attempting to save others during a violent crime at Louisville’s Old National Bank. Those affected were our friends and prior colleagues—a truly tragic event.

Sarah created a beautiful collection box and designed a sign displayed at our Bank location. The collections began shortly after. While the donations were trickling in, she wanted to do more. President Louis R. Straub, II reached out to St. Matthews Police Chief, Barry Wilkerson, to invite him to our location to take a photo with the display and post it on social media. We hoped this would increase community awareness.

A small planning committee of three people formed: Independence Bank employees Sarah Gant and Cindy Bailey invited Ashley Bratcher of the St. Matthews Police Department. The trio planned an entire week of festivities with a Family Night, Jeep Show, Car Show, Bike Show, First Responders Softball Game and a Silent Auction. It became widely known as “Wilt Week!” Full support came from St. Matthews Police and Fire Departments, City of St. Matthews (Mayor Rick Tonini), Boxcar PR for promotion, Texas Roadhouse, plus many local St. Matthews businesses, groups and organizations. It was incredibly heartwarming to see the immense support pouring out. We appeared on virtually every local news station on more than one occasion and those same editorial entities attended every event. We set a goal to raise $90,000, which would purchase a needed vehicle to transport Officer Wilt to his continuous medical appointments.

Louis, alongside the rest of our team, began making phone calls and sending emails to request support.

Donations and sponsorships events began flooding in. Within a couple of days, Matt Ott, with local business, Air Hydro Power stepped up to pledge the entire $90,000—saying it felt like the right thing to do. This immediately met our initial goal. We could not have been more proud. However, it certainly did not end there. Texas Roadhouse sponsored an evening of dining at all four of its Louisville locations with 100% of profits donated to this effort. This raised $15,000 on a Tuesday night.

The Silent Auction garnished an additional $14,000, the first responder softball game brought in more than $8,000 and the other events netted $10,000. At the completion of Wilt Week, we were able to present $170,000 for Officer Wilt. The ceremony happened at the St. Matthews Potato Festival with his family.
Since then, additional donations have elevated that number to surpass $180,000 in a mere eight weeks.

This would not have been possible without the unwavering support of the entire community.

Louis Straub, Cindy Bailey and Ashley Bratcher accepted the award on stage, who handed the plaque to Louisville Metro Police Foundation representative Rebecca Grignon-Reker in honor of Nick Wilt.