Our supporter of the month initiative is an opportunity to thank the special people who have shown incredible commitment to LIVESTRONG and also to give perspective to our staff, interns, clients and many visitors about who is supporting the Foundation and why they are doing so. In addition to having their story shared on our blog, the Supporter of the Month will be featured on a wall in our Austin office, where the LIVESTRONG staff will be able to get to know our supporters and share notes about how much these individuals mean to us.
May Supporter of the Month: John Owens
John is our supporter of the month for May and was kind enough to answer a few of our questions about his background and his relationship with the Foundation.
LS: How did you become involved with LIVESTRONG?
John: With my brother Jim 12 years ago, raising money and traveling to Austin for Ride for the Roses every year. He passed away in 2009, but had lived for over ten years with an inoperable brain tumor. We believe this was due in no small part to the inspiration from Lance and support of LIVESTRONG.
LS: What is your occupation?
John: I am President & CEO of Owens Companies, an Energy Services Company started by my late father in 1957. We are in the commercial and residential air-conditioning, heating and energy management business. Ask me about my wireless Ecobee thermostat in my home that I access on my iPhone.
LS: What do you like to do in your free time?
John: Free time? I definitely get on my bike and I love to cook.
LS: Can you tell us a bit about your family?
John: My father passed away in 2006. I would not be where I am today without him, as well as my Mother. They raised six children and today my mother keeps busy attending the many events of the 13 grandchildren. My wife, Pat, an attorney, and I have been married for 28 years. We have three children; Jessica is a nurse on the Oncology wing of a large Minneapolis Hospital. Abra is graduating from Williams College this spring and Joe is graduating from high school this spring as well.
LS: Why is it important to you to give back? When did you first become a philanthropist?
John: My first real fundraising was in 1996 when Jim and I did the TwinCities>Chicago AIDS Ride, 500 miles on our bike over six days. As important as the $10,000 I raised was the awareness of this disease. I then did the Canada>US AIDS Vaccine Ride in 2001 with my sister Nancy. After that it has been LIVESTRONG. I feel it is important to carry on for Jim and for all those living with cancer. In a broader sense, though, there are so many needy causes and people in our world, how can we not help? I always say the more successful my company is the more we, and me personally, can give. Our company has been a part of the Keystone Program in the Twin Cities for over 30 years, which recognizes companies that give 5% of profits to charitable organizations.
LS: Do you give in honor of anyone in particular?
John: All my work for LIVESTRONG is in memory of Jim. But, sadly there have been many others we have lost to cancer. Most recently Susie Robinson last year, who was one of those really special people. But also both of my younger sisters are survivors, so I give in their honor.
LS: What is your connection to cancer?
John: Actually first my youngest sister was diagnosed in 1975, then Jim, then my father then my other younger sister. And that is just family. It seems there is not a week that goes by that I don?t learn of someone being diagnosed. So I get them a LIVESTRONG Guidebook, some yellow bands, perhaps the manifesto and encourage them to get multiple opinions. And to never give up HOPE
LS: In your opinion, what is the most important aspect of LIVESTRONG‘s work?
John: The guidebook, and navigation center
LS/John: Finish this sentence: “To me, LIVESTRONG means” HOPE”
Thank you John for your incredible support of LIVESTRONG and all that you do for our community!