“I am cruising down Constitution at a brisk, but comfortable pace. The Washington Monument is directly to my left and the White House is on my right. I hear the roar of the crowd and watch a black SUV filled with Diplomatic Security clear traffic ahead of our large group of riders. About 50 yards in front of me, I can see Benjamin near the front of the pack of veterans riding “hand cycles,” which operate according to the same concept as a bicycle, but are specially adapted for individuals who have limited or no use of their legs. One word jumps to the forefront of my mind: fortunate.
The burning in my legs as I propel my bike forward reminds me that I am fortunate to have the full use of my limbs. Loud cheers that erupt from the crowds of tourists, government employees, and lobbyists who have lined the street to cheer on the veterans participating in the race remind me that we are fortunate to have a military comprised of dedicated men and women who (to borrow a line from the great Aaron Sorkin) “stand on a wall” to protect our freedom. The sight of Benjamin ahead of me reminds me how fortunate I am that he is still alive.
Aside from being my cousin, Benjamin is a huge inspiration and influence on my life. Growing up, Ben and I always enjoyed a close relationship. Our fathers are twin brothers, which Ben tells me actually makes us genetically closer to being brothers than cousins. Whether or not this is true scientifically doesn’t matter much because I know that, at a level beyond scientific understanding, Ben and I are brothers.
Ben joined the Navy in 2000, shortly after graduating college. Following boot camp, he was stationed in Pensacola, Florida where his was trained in cryptology, and then transferred to Naples, Italy. Through sporadic emails, Ben regaled me with photographs of Rome and stories of his new Italian girlfriend. One of my favorite things to hear about was Ben’s new motorcycle. As a typical American adolescent male, the motorcycle was the physical manifestation of the freedom I craved. It seemed that Ben had it all.
In late 2002, however, this image was shattered by a single phone call. Ben had been in an accident while riding his motorcycle, and there was a good chance that he wasn’t going to make it. Tense months passed as we prayed and waited for news of Ben’s recovery. Eventually, it became clear that Ben would survive, but that he would never be able to walk again due to the severe damage he sustained to his spinal cord.
Ben was medically retired from the Navy in 2003 and returned home to Kentucky. Our family gathered around him and tried to do what we could to help in his recovery. It was Ben’s perseverance and desire to not be defined by his disability, however, that drove his recovery. He also brought our family closer together. As a large family with a strong agricultural background, we have always been a close-knit group. It seems that farming breeds large, close families (this is most likely due to the free labor). Ben’s accident and his example drew us even closer together by showing us the fragility of life and forcing us to truly appreciate the time we spend together.
It has been about eight years since his accident and in that time Ben has graduated college, built a house, married a wonderful woman, and fathered a beautiful baby girl. Not one who is content to slow down, Ben is active in adaptive sports and travels across the country to kayak, ski, surf, and bike. He also works to help other injured veterans overcome their disabilities.
When Ben and I decided to form our team for the Honor Ride, we weren’t sure how we would raise the $4000 we were required to raise. We emailed family, friends, and business associates and were able to raise a significant amount of money, but nowhere near what we needed. Then, we received a call from a representative from Koons who had seen our profile on the Wounded Warrior Project’s fundraising website and was interested in sponsoring our ride. Thanks to Koons generous donation, we were able to raise the money we needed to for the ride. All of these funds will go to fund the services that the Wounded Warrior Project provides to the men and women of our armed forces who return home with life-changing injuries.
Ben and I are thankful to Koons for their support and to the Wounded Warrior Project for the great work that they do. Please take some time to visit http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org to learn how you can support this amazing organization and the work that it does for our veterans.”
Thanks for sharing Andrew. We loved meeting you and your cousin, Ben. We wish you both all the best.
I want to give a quick shout out to Koons employees! Washington Business Journal has once again named Jim Koons Automotive Companies one of the Top 50 Best Places to Work in the greater Washington area based on a recent survey of more than 200 current employees. This will be our third year to receive this honor as Koons was ranked number one overall for large businesses in both 2009 and 2010! This year’s final rankings will be announced on June 2, 2011.
“One of my favorite things about working at Koons is the fun, fast-paced environment. In addition to growing in my job, I’ve made a lot of good friends here,” says Olivia Devereux, Media Director for the group.
My dad always says that the most important asset in our business is our employees. They continue to help us provide our customers with top-notch service. From the operator answering the phone, to the back-counter parts representative — they are all essential to helping our organization grow and be the best of the best. Working in the automotive industry is not a “nine-to-five” job. It can mean working long days, weekends, and sometimes holidays, but it is truly rewarding. As a member of the Koons team, you’re not just an employee, you’re a member of the Koons family.
If you know someone that’s looking for a career change, tell them about Koons! Employment opportunities and an on-line application are available on our website, www.koons.com.
Thanks again to our employees for all that you do.
And at the risk of sounding a bit cheesy, to all of our past, present, and future customers, you should know that the people who are working for you love their jobs and appreciate your business. We know that you have options when it comes to purchasing and servicing your vehicles, and we thank you for choosing Koons!
The toughest issues average 11-year-olds face on a daily basis involve choosing an outfit or completing homework. Madeline Tallman is not your average 11-year-old. Koons Lexus of Wilmington, a longtime supporter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), recently sponsored her as a Youth Ambassador.
Madeline, a bubbly sixth-grader, was diagnosed with Type I (Juvenile) diabetes when she was just eight years old. Not one to succumb to her new reality as a diabetic, she almost immediately became involved with JDRF. She was the 2010 Gala ambassador, created a family walk team named “Maddie’s Mob,” and established “Tween Girls”—a group which brings other Type I diabetics together for social events.
And Madeline has continued her work to end Type 1 diabetes. She submitted the winning essay out of 25 applicants in Delaware to represent the state as their JDRF Youth Ambassador.
Leigh Encarnacian, Customer Relations Manager at Koons Lexus, believes that Madeline is a truly worthy recipient of that honor. “She is a wonderful girl. She’s a typical 11-year-old with hope in her eyes living her new normal,” Encarnacian said. “It tugs at your heart, because she lives with a pump.”
As the Ambassador, Madeline will attend the Children’s Congress in Washington, DC in June. Koons Lexus of Wilmington’s contribution to the JDRF will not only help defray Madeline’s cost for the trip, but will also make a concrete impact on the fight to find a cure for this disease.
“A cure would mean everything to me and so many other people,” Madeline said. “This is so important because that would make my life more care free like other kids my age. I could wake up and not worry about feeling awful in the midst of the day. I could be at lunch and not be worrying about not finishing everything…and neither would any other diabetic.”
The Lexus Corporation matched the Koons Lexus of Wilmington donation through their Pursuit of Potential program.
Koons wishes you all the best Madeline and we look forward to hearing about your trip to the Children’s Congress.
I’m so proud of our team at Koons Easton Toyota! On Saturday, April 2, 2011, employees and family members pitched in to help Project Clean Stream. This is an annual stream and shoreline clean up coordinated by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and partnering watershed organizations.
There were 11 volunteers: co-workers, families and friends turned out at the site in Unionville to clean up and remove 23 bags of trash and debris from streams and wooded areas throughout the town. Koons Easton Toyota volunteers included Theresa Griffin, Jill Harrison, Kevin Deshields, Terry Carney, and Liz Disimone.
This is the eighth year the Alliance, their partners and sponsors have organized cleanups for the Chesapeake Bay area through Project Clean Stream. In 2010 more than 3600 volunteers helped to remove over 118,000 pounds of trash. This year, clean up was performed at even more sites and will continue on April 9th and 16th.
Keeping our streams clean is vital to protecting the Chesapeake Bay – home to thousands of plants, fish, waterfowl – and Maryland’s own Blue Crab. To get involved or for more information on Project Clean Stream click here.
Koons Kia of Woodbridge held their quarterly Owner’s Clinic last week to introduce customers to the mechanics who would be maintaining their cars.
“I know this is an Owner’s Clinic, but I prefer to call it a ‘Right from the start’ clinic,” said John Fee, General Manager of Koons Kia Woodbridge. “This is your opportunity to meet the people who will maintain the car that you just purchased. We want to take care of your needs right from the start.”
The thirty-five people in attendance received information on service hours and talked with the Woodbridge employees about their service questions. One audience member asked about changing a tire and received a firsthand demonstration.
Vehicles today are much more sophisticated than they used to be. Koons Kia’s ‘Right from the start’ party is a great way for our customers to learn more about their brand new Kia and Koons in general. Every person who asked a question received a lottery ticket. Other giveaways included first aid kits, GPS devices, tire pressure gauges, car wash buckets, tire brushes, and gift certificates for oil changes. Guests got to nosh on mini-subs, pizzas, and cheese sticks from Joe’s Pizza. Chicken fingers and fries were available for the children.
The Woodbridge Kia store is one of our organization’s fastest growing brands. The dealership began as a used car outlet in May 1994. Then in June 2009, the store picked up the first Koons Kia franchise. Initially they were selling seven to eight Kias per month. In March 2011, they sold 84 new Kias.
The store plans to hold its next Owner’s Clinic in June. Check the Koons Kia of Woodbridge facebook page or my blog for more details.