Cinco Ranch resident Monty Ballard said it is kind of weird to drive by the new YMCA sign with his name on it. The former Katy Family YMCA–22807 Westheimer Parkway–recently was renamed after Ballard, a local philanthropist.
“He’s so humble,” said Ballard’s girlfriend Robin Sadler. “He’s not a bragger. He gets embarrassed easily.”
Sadler said Ballard makes breakfast for her and her two teenage daughters every morning, attends their theater performances and keeps the house clean all while remaining active with many local charities, including The Ballard House at 21421 Cinco Park Road, which he founded with in 2013.
A self-proclaimed “homebody,” Ballard said he would rather have neighbors over for dinner and cocktails than go out; he eats canned sardines with Pringles for lunch nearly every day.
Ballard grew up on his parents’ cattle ranch in Sabine Pass. He said he thought he would some day take over his family’s ranch, but his father encouraged him to do otherwise. After graduation, he moved to Houston, where he co-founded plastics adhesion company Fluoro-Seal International.
The company—which he later sold—opened a Katy-area office, so as a single parent, he moved to Cinco Ranch in 1990 with his only daughter, Rachel.
“When I first came here, it was just another place to live,” he said. “But the longer I stayed, the more I’ve come to appreciate the type of people that are out here . . . I’ve realized how many generous people there are in [Katy].”
Ballard serves as an emeritus board member of The Ballard House, a 20,000-square-foot residence where families can stay while their loved ones receive treatment at Katy medical facilities. He also contributes to other Katy charities including the Krause Center, Clothed by Faith and the Brookwood Community.
When the YMCA asked him if he could donate money to help build the new Katy facility at 5618 Kingsland Boulevard, he said someone asked him, “‘What is a million dollars worth to you?’” to which he replied, “‘If the YMCA can save one child’s life by teaching them how to swim, it’s worth it.’”
The YMCA wanted to name the new facility in his honor, but Ballard was reluctant until he spoke with longtime friend Leonard Merrell, a former Katy ISD superintendent and the namesake of the district’s Merrell Center.
“He convinced me to do it,” Ballard said. “He said, ‘It will encourage other people to step forward and do generous things.’”
Ballard asked the YMCA to instead rename the Katy YMCA since it was closer to his home and because he thought doing so would encourage another donor to seek naming rights at the new location.
YMCA District Executive Director Brian Haines said Ballard’s donation will impact about 30,000 people when the new Katy YMCA opens in February 2017.
“[Ballard] is very humble, but he’s very passionate about making an impact in a positive way in the community,” Haines said.