Avis Budget Group's 'Rolling Pride Rally' spreads cheer, charity in North Florida
August 10, 2012
By Doug Milne, PGA TOUR
JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-- What took place in Jacksonville on August 8, 2012 can actually be traced back three years to New York.
When Tom Gartland, president of Avis Budget Group North America, caught a story in the New York Post about a wounded soldier recently home from Afghanistan, it struck a chord. The serviceman was quoted as saying he’d love the opportunity to attend a NY Yankees game, the 2009 team on the verge of claiming their first World Series title since 2000. Moved by the young man’s commitment and dedication to his country, it was a no-brainer. Gartland made his wish come true. The soldier and a friend were guests in the company’s Yankee Stadium sky box for an early Series game and returned to watch the Yankees clinch the title over the Phillies 4-2.
What that has to do with Jacksonville is, in part, due to a commitment Gartland and Avis Budget Group made at the time of that experience; support the Wounded Warriors Project, a program which happens to be headquartered in Jacksonville.
“After that experience, it became absolutely clear to us as a company,” Gartland said. “We need to do more for the Wounded Warriors Project. As a sponsor now, we’ve done that. Among other things, we’ve equipped special vans to transport warriors to and from hospitals. We cherish our role as a sponsor.”
On January 1, 2012, Avis began serving as the official rental car of the PGA TOUR, also a proud sponsor of the Wounded Warriors Project.
On Thursday, Gartland and members of his senior team at Avis Budget Group rolled through Jacksonville in quite the unorthodox and round-about, but well-received fashion.
Fueled by the company’s “Customer Led, Service Driven” mantra, the rubber has met the road for the Avis Budget Group, now in the midst of its eight-week, “Rolling Pride Rally” North American tour of more than 80 Avis and Budget locations in the United States and Canada. The objective is simple; to thank customers for their business and celebrate the contributions of its employees.
Traveling by bus, Jacksonville became the 57th of 83 stops Thursday. In addition to the gratitude bestowed to its area employees, Gartland and his team had something else with which to leave the city. In its continued commitment to the Wounded Warriors Project, Avis Budget Group made a donation in the amount of $10,000 to the Jacksonville organization.
“The Wounded Warriors Project does not take any funds form the government,” said John Sullivan, Executive Vice President, Development. “We rely solely on the contributions of individuals and corporate partners, like Avis Budget Group. Without the support like this today, we cannot change lives, we cannot give the warriors what the need. This support goes a long way.”
The Wounded Warriors Project, however, weren’t the only recipients of Avis Budget Group’s charitable heart this week. The First Tee, based in nearby St. Augustine, also received a check for $10,000.
“This means a lot. This partnership is relatively new for us,” said Kelly Martin, First Tee Chief Operating Officer. “For Avis Budget Group to step up like this is so significant for us. We have been reliant on partnerships to help foster our progress. This relationship, this donation is very significant for us.”
In a tweet from the Avis Budget Group’s ‘Rolling Pride Rally’ dated August 7, 2012, the comment was “Thank you Ft. Myers. You inspired us! You energized us! You motivated us! Do the same for each other after we leave!”
As the bus rolled out of Jacksonville bound for its next stop, stop No. 58, Avis Budget Group itself had inspired, energized and motivated its area employees, not to mention a town and several of its worthwhile programs.
At one point in Gartland’s talk to his employees in Jacksonville Thursday, he found himself at a loss for who the Yankees had beaten for the World Series title in 2009. “That’s my point,” he rallied with. “You only remember the best. Our goal is to not just be the best, but to also serve the best. We’ll always remember the Wounded Warriors Project and The First Tee.“
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