How many times have you turned on the TV and seen hurricanes and flooding in Florida or Mississippi? Or tornados in Oklahoma or Kansas? Or wildfires in California? And, how often have you thought about how you’d like to help some of the folks who were suffering through those catastrophes?
But did you?
If you’re like most of us, you probably sent a few bucks to the Red Cross and let it go at that.
But Don Stone, owner of AA Quality Transmissions in Stuart, Florida, took things to the next level. When he heard about the damage that Hurricane Michael did to the people in Tallahassee, he stepped up and did more… a lot more.
“I’m an avid camper, so we had several generators,” says Don. “And we’ve been through two hurricanes ourselves: Frances and Jeanne. We’ve been without power for two or three weeks at a time, so I have plenty of generators.
“When the hurricane went by there, I heard how everyone was without power, especially the boys from Superior Transmission Parts, I said, ‘Let’s load up the generators and head to Tallahassee.’
“So that’s what we did. We loaded them up, then I got a hold of some other friends and we made some collections… got food and diapers and toilet paper… all the necessities that people really need. Then me, my wife, Laurie, and one of my R&R techs, Arnold Olsen, headed to Tallahassee to help them out.”
They brought 13 generators in all: 12 that belonged to Don and an additional, propane-powered generator that Bob White asked Don to pick up for him.
One thing Don remembered is that the generators are just half the battle: They need gas to operate. And gas wasn’t going to be easy to find in Tallahassee right after a hurricane. So he also brought several cans of gasoline to keep the generators running.
“I also brought a propane stove with a tank of propane in case someone needed it for cooking. And I brought three or four coolers full of ice. Everybody had a need.”
Don and his compatriots drove for about six hours from Stuart to Tallahassee, loaded with generators, gas, and other supplies. There they made contact with Dean Mason and Bob White from Superior, and they began taking the generators to the homes of the Superior staff. According to Bob, Don and his technician worked through the night, wiring the generators into people’s homes to get them power again.
“Don is a true hero… this man is a saint,” says Bob. “Don heard what was coming our way, and he’d been through it before. The call went out after the hurricane came through. Don got wind of it and he called and said, ‘I’m bringing it… I’m bringing it all.’
“He brought generators, fuel cans — filled with fuel! — ice chests, water, food, and supplies. Whatever they could grab, they loaded it up in his big trailer and his truck, drove nonstop to Tallahassee, and showed up here at about 11:00 Thursday night.
“They were just clearing the road of trees and branches… we were the first people to come through the road. And Don and his technician got started setting up generators and distributing supplies.”
And not just to the folks at Superior: “We spoke with Barbara Lubin from ATSG; she put me in contact with some people from the Moose Lodges. They were without power and they were trying to feed people. I left them three of my generators so they could power up their lodges.”
In addition to the generators, Don also donated food and other supplies to be handed out at the Moose Lodge. “There were some veterans — guys they call the ‘Florida Militia’ — who picked up some food and supplies,” says Don. “They brought me some supplies to bring with us.
“I wish I could’ve gotten there sooner. Because in the two days they were without power, a lot of them lost the food in their freezers and refrigerators.” Of course, many of the roads were still flooded then and weren’t passable. Don made it to Tallahassee about as quickly as he could under the circumstances.
And, when Bob tried to give Don money to cover some of the costs he’d incurred, Don refused. He told Bob to “pay it forward.”
Most of us hear about other people in trouble and we think about how we’d like to help. But Don Stone did more than think about it: He stepped up and went to work to get the folks at Superior up and running again. And he donated food and supplies to the people of Tallahassee where it’d do the most good.
His quick and generous response to a tragic situation should be an inspiration to us all, and something we can be proud of from one of our own in the transmission repair industry. Way to go, Don!