As president of Speedway Convenience Stores, Tony Kenney does not have a lot of time for personal calls at work. But there is one person—9-year-old Olivia Pierce—whose call CSP's 2015 Retail Leader of the Year always takes.
Olivia is a patient of Children’s Miracle Network’s (CMN) Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health, Indianapolis, where she has been receiving treatment since the age of 3 for bilateral retinoblastoma. Tony met her in 2010 at a luncheon announcing her as the Children’s Miracle Network Champion for the coming year, representing Indiana.
Speedway is the fourth-largest corporate sponsor of CMN hospitals, raising $68 million in the past 25 years.
“Olivia will pick up the phone, talk to his secretary, ask to speak to Tony, and he’ll get right on the line,” says her mom, Shannon Pierce. “As a leader, he’s not untouchable. He’s there for you. It doesn’t matter if it’s someone in the offıce, or a district manager or a cashier in the store—he’s there for his employees.”
Speedway raised $8 million for CMN in 2014, and it increases its goal each year. A portion is raised at Speedway’s annual Miracle Golf Tournament, which in 2015 beat its $2 million target.
With Speedway East now in the fold, the tournament can only get bigger. That’s because Speedway has extended its commitment to CMN hospitals in the Speedway East footprint, taking it from 19 to nearly 40.
The bulk of the CMN fundraising, however, takes place at Speedway stores across the Midwest and East Coast, in the form of spare change and bills in donation jars on the counter. Stores and districts also compete in monthly CMN rallies, when employees ask customers to donate $1. And general and district managers participate in local telethons to help raise money for CMN. But the most powerful advocates are CMN patients such as Olivia.
“When we have stores that do grand openings, ambassadors from CMN come out and talk to customers, to employees, get them to know we’re not just asking for money,” says Sheila Wehrs, general manager for Speedway’s Beavercreek, Ohio, store. “There’s really a purpose, people behind it.”
“That’s a very important fıber of our culture, something everyone out in the fıeld understands that they can make a difference in people’s lives, and Tony really shows that on a daily basis through his passion for CMN and how much time he spends with CMN,” says Glenn Plumby, senior vice president of operations for Speedway.
“He has done so many great things for Speedway and so many great things for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals,” says Olivia. “He’s raised millions and millions of dollars for children like me so they can give people hope.”
But for Tony, Olivia and other CMN patients are the truly inspirational ones.
“I can look back and say I’ve been fortunate; I’ve been lucky,” he says. “But getting to know kids like that really puts things in the right perspective.”