WHO ARE Nicholas and Athena Karabots, lead donors behind the Franklin Institute's expansive new addition?
Fort Washington-based, they're a classic rags-to-riches saga: Greek immigrant-rooted, up from the South Bronx streets, hardworking and eventually highly successful in publishing and printing (including puzzle mags and TV Guide in its glory days), real estate, recreational sports and, more recently, a well-received winery in, of all places, Fort Washington.
But for the past decade, living up to Nicholas Karabots' motto - "Never forget where you came from" - the couple has focused most heavily on giving back their riches to the community, with an emphasis on youth education and medical facilities.
The Karabots Junior Fellows Program, based at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, has prepped dozens of needy, high-achieving high-schoolers for careers in health care.
Major Karabots gifts have garnered facility namings at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's Pediatric Care Centers, in West Philadelphia and Norristown, and for the MRI Center of Montgomery Hospital, at Einstein Medical Center Montgomery.
The Karabots also lend support to youth education programs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
And their foundation's $10 million gift to the Franklin Institute's Inspire Science capital campaign in 2011 - the largest private gift in the Institute's history - kick-started the construction of a new wing and "galvanized" the fundraising effort, said Franklin Institute execs. As that enlivened facility sparks new generations of scientists, many may feel compelled to name their offspring Nicholas and Athena, in gratitude.
- Jonathan Takiff