By Jamie Saunders
Each year, John Rowlands and Jan Giovingo looks forward to hosting the Run 2 End Alzheimer’s at the Landings in Warner Robins. With COVID encroaching on nearly every aspect of our lives, they knew the community fundraising event would have to be canceled. While disappointed, they didn’t let it get them down. Instead, they got together with Wes Weaver, site manager of the Tidal Wave Auto Spa in Kathleen, GA, who designated the Alzheimer’s Association as their designated charity for their annual Charity Day.
For the second consecutive year, Jim Farr of Tidal Wave Auto Spa had signed up to sponsor the Run 2 End Alzheimer’s. For 2020, due to the canceled run, Tidal Wave would take center stage in fundraising efforts. “Every Tidal Wave does their own charity day, so we represent approximately 50 charities in all. We host our events on the same day, so even though we might be representing different causes, it feels like we’re all on a singular mission. We all love it.”
What is unique about Tidal Wave’s commitment is that they donate 100% of the proceeds for their charity’s designated day. In this case, the Alzheimer’s Association received over $10,200 from this one day of car washing. That’s a lot of cars, 950, to be exact. As if that isn’t enough, they ensure a full staff, choose a busy Friday, and bring in an onsite radio station to advertise the event. Site manager Wes Weaver even came in early to catch the Chik-Fil-A traffic next door and make sure every hour of the day counted.
The generosity and spirit of the community in Warner Robins were on full display. Everyone involved recounted memories from the day. Highlights include one customer who wrote a check for $1,000 and tales of others who donated without even having their car washed or gave more than the cost of a wash.
Site manager Wes Weaver comments, “We worked from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm that day. Speaking for myself, Jim, and Tidal Wave, we love that we get to choose a day to give back. Every day we come in and make an effort to do the best we can. On this day, it’s not about us. Our goal is solely to wash as many cars as we can to make sure we give the maximum possible back. We go all out. It’s fun to watch everyone just so busy because we know that every wash is a donation to a great cause. We set records, washing more cars that we have ever washed. There is an aura of celebration about the wash. When the bell rings at the end of the day, we have a great sense of accomplishment.”
Continues Farr, “Bringing awareness to this cause is a big thing for me. I lost my Grandmother, Homer Knight, and my Aunt, Dot Greene, who was like a second mother. I grew up in the country, and I spent a lot of my childhood with her; our homes were almost interchangeable. Almost anyone you ask knows someone has had this disease or knows someone with it currently. To be able to donate in the hopes of finding a cure through important research means everything.”
And create awareness for Alzheimer’s they did. Rowlands recounts how the community joined them in promoting, working, and fundraising. Says Rowlands, “We had 21 volunteers from the Warner Robins and Macon offices of Synovus; they even invited their board to drive through the wash! We also had volunteers from our Run 2 End Alzheimer’s at the Landings committee, the Warner Robins Rotary Club, Georgia Power, Southern Classic Realtors, and The Miner Agency. Many of these folks made donations and also drove their vehicles through the wash and encouraged visitors to buy t-shirts and donate beyond a wash’s cost. It was an incredible display of humanity from our community just when we needed it most.”
Farr adds, “The people from the Alzheimer’s Association were there every step of the way as well. They really put a lot of effort behind the event and made sure we are supported for their cause. They stayed with us for all 11 hours of that day to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association.”
For Rowlands, it’s an incredibly moving and humbling experience each year. Having lost his father, Bob Rowlands, twin uncles, Don and Dan Rowlands, an aunt, and his Grandfather to Alzheimer’s, he knows the great need for support and research. Like this event, it’s a community affair and something no one should have to suffer alone.
“My dad was actually apart of a research program to try and stop this disease. I wanted to honor him by increasing awareness and raising funds for more research. Partnering with Tidal Wave and our other sponsors has exceeded any expectations I had. Everyone pitches in, friends and neighbors alike. Even with COVID canceling the run, it didn’t dampen the mood at all. Wes told me, “John, I’m going to get you
$10,000,” and they did!”
Their efforts earned them the top fundraising spot for Central Georgia, and they’re not stopping anytime soon. Says Rowlands, “We are already committed to doing it again next year, and hopefully we’ll have the run in April of 2021, and raise even more.” Rowlands has also committed to serving as a member of the Georgia Alzheimer’s Association Board and raising awareness for the disease. Rowlands concludes, “Everyone I’ve worked with at the Alzheimer’s Association is very passionate about what they do. I’ve met people from the local and national offices. They are united in their mission to care for and support those with the disease and research until we find a way to eradicate it forever. I’m proud to serve and use my voice for this purpose.”