AKRON (June 15, 2001)—One of the great joys for me at Tire Business is presenting the annual Tire Dealer Humanitarian Award each November during the International Tire Expo, held in Las Vegas by the Tire Association of North America.
If you've ever attended that presentation, which last year was held as part of the TANA annual meeting and Hall of Fame Breakfast, you know that the Humanitarian Award winners are truly inspiring individuals who've made giving back to their communities a part of their daily lives.
Now, we're looking for nominees for this year's award. The entry deadline for the 2001 Humanitarian Award is July 31, so you still have time to nominate someone for this year.
Humanitarians contribute in different ways. Last year's winner, Ross Kogel, owner of Tire Wholesalers Co. Inc. in Troy, Mich., for instance, is devoted to helping the homeless in Detroit and to serving the city's Ecumenical Theological Seminary, a school that brings together various religious communities in an interfaith learning environment.
He believes that to really make a difference in a community you have to give more than money, you have to make a commitment of time.
In 1999, the judges selected Jerry Saunders, owner of Fairmount Tire & Rubber Co. in Los Angeles, in part, for his work in establishing the Fairmount Tire Education Foundation, which helps those less fortunate continue on in school.
Jerry, himself a diabetic, also has raised more than $1.5 million over the past two decades to find a cure for diabetes. In addition, he has launched would-be entrepreneurs in the tire business, befriended the homeless and collected food and other necessities for the needy.
“It's not what you have that you're judged by,” he said when asked about his generosity. “It's what you have given when you're here that matters.”
Then there's Mike Alles, owner of two-outlet Alles Tire Co. in Grand Haven, Mich., who on his own began traveling to areas hit by natural disasters, hauling relief goods in his race car trailer to offer help and support.
The 1998 Humanitarian Award winner, he takes off from work several times a year to deliver supplies and help people in a poverty-stricken Mexican city and at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
“Jesus said: 'If they're hungry, feed them. If they need clothes, clothe them.' That's pretty much the way I look at my mission work,” Mr. Alles said.
None of the seven Humanitarian Award winners selected thus far sought the spotlight concerning their humanitarian activities, preferring instead to quietly go about trying to help others less fortunate. In most cases, it was their children, inspired by their parents' activities, who sent in the nominations.
Perhaps you know or work with a tire dealer who is giving back to his or her community through volunteer work or other charitable activities. If so, I encourage you to send in a nomination. I can't think of a more fitting tribute for a son or daughter, co-worker or friend, than to recognize someone who is giving selflessly to help others.
An entry form for this year's award is found on page 9 of this issue. Please be sure to provide plenty of support material to help in the judging.
Mr. Zielasko is editor and publisher of Tire Business.