A Full Ride

Dr Rick and Cindy HillRick Hill, DO (’78), will be sending future generations of Texas family physicians to medical school. And he’s getting them there with some really fast cars.

The cars are part of a $2.1 million estate gift to the Health Science Center, its largest individual philanthropic gift to date. But the vehicles represent more than pistons and gasoline – they include a bit of Hill himself.

Calling him a “car guy” is an understatement. Hill is a racecar driver, a mechanic, a collector and a lifelong appreciator of the automobile. He likes cars with “soul” – the kind that he couldn’t afford when he was younger. His garage holds more than a dozen unique cars – from a 1931 Ford Model A to a 2005 Ford GT, also known as the GT40 – and just as many motorcycles.

But he didn’t always have that many keys on his ring. He set aside his passion for cars and motorcycle racing when he was accepted to the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (TCOM) in 1974 – back when the old bowling alley on Camp Bowie Boulevard served as a classroom and a mobile home served as the student center. For Hill, going to TCOM was the opportunity of a lifetime, but it was also a huge financial challenge. He put his heart and soul into medical school, and he got some help along the way. “During my second year, the school became state supported and the costs came way down so a guy like me could afford to go, and that was huge,” Hill said. “And if it hadn’t been for the student loan program, I wouldn’t be here doing this now.”

Since his graduation in 1978, he’s made a habit of giving back. For the past 30 years he has served the community of Humble, Texas, as a family physician. He’s treated generations of families – sometimes even if they couldn’t pay for his services – and they have repaid him with their loyalty. “We went through the early ’80s when oil busted in Houston, “Hill said. “People lost their insurance and didn’t have anything. But, we made it work. All those people kept coming even when times improved, and now I’ve got more work than I can do.”

Through the decades he has learned first-hand what a family doctor means to a community. Now he wants to help supply communities across Texas with good family doctors, so he’s giving the ultimate gift to make that happen: he’s donating assets including his beloved car collection. Hill and his wife, Cindy, are giving this largest-ever single gift to provide scholarships for TCOM students studying to be primary care physicians in Texas. When the donation is fully endowed, it will support TCOM students for years to come, but the Hills are not waiting – they will also make a donation to award the first scholarship this year. With this and other annual gifts, Hill will honor those who helped him along the way. The first scholarship will honor TCOM’s first dean, the late Henry Hardt, who was instrumental in Hill’s acceptance to medical school.

It’s the gift of a lifetime, but Hill said the decision was easy. “If we fund education for family doctors, they will be able to serve a community in Texas,” he said. “There will be a benefit to a great number of people.  I want to give something back to the people of Texas. I want to give them family doctors.”