For well over a decade – closer to two – J.R. Toothman, president of Toothman Ford Auto Dealership, and his family, have had a huge impact on the success of WVU Medicine Children’s.
According to Director of Giving Dee O’Palko, donations made in Toothman’s name, a family member’s name, or the dealership can be seen as far back as 2005 and the funds have supported many different aspects of the hospital.
Toothman recalls embracing the children’s hospital and really wanting to get involved after Toothman Ford became the main sponsor for the annual media-thon fundraiser.
“From there we just saw all the amazing things that they were doing and wanted to get more deeply involved and were able to do that as the years went by,” he said.
In addition to sponsoring the media-thon, Toothman worked hand-in-hand with hospital coordinators to orchestrate the West Virginia Auto Dealers Association’s annual partnership with participating auto dealers donating $100 for every car sold in the month of August or a generous donation to the hospital. Funds raised throughout the month go towards the Child Life Program.
“I think that event helped raise about $600,000 last year,” Toothman said.
O’Palko said five or six years ago, Toothman also started an endowment that helps support the children’s oncology (cancer) department.
“He knows the importance of supporting this hospital and having a new facility to take care of kids in our state and our region,” O’Palko said of Toothman. “The kids … they’re what makes this hospital a children’s hospital … and [Toothman] helps make this hospital kid-friendly.”
Toothman said he and his family will continue to support the hospital “based on the fact that it’s been such an amazing facility where the kids and the families in our state don’t have to take a backseat and get second-class care – they get it right in our own backyard. They don’t have to travel to Pennsylvania or Ohio or wherever, because with the recruitment of world-class physicians and now a world-class facility right here in our own backyard.”
O’Palko said that without donors like Toothman, “many of these things that J.R. supports – we wouldn’t have those services or programs without donors. Having the donor support of someone like J.R. really helps make our hospital better and allows us to make our hospital better.”
Toothman said that Toothman Ford has been in business for about 56 years through the support of the community and he hopes he is giving back with his donations to the children’s hospital.
“I’m a firm believer that we’re not a business in the community, we’re a part of that community,” he said. “So, it’s important for us to pay it forward when we can because of the loyalty of so many good customers that we’ve had through the years. We just want to keep trying to create the best community that we can because of the fact that West Virginia’s been good to us, and we want to pay that forward back to the most important resource we have, which is the kids.”
Toothman said he thinks a lot of times people don’t actually know what the children’s hospital facility does until they are in a situation where they actually need it.
“When you get a chance on say, a football game Saturday, to look over at [the hospital] – realize that now we have this pretty much free-standing facility that just caters to kids and the detail that went into it – everything from the resource center that Jeff Hostetler donated funds to and all the thought that is going into making sure that the kids have a comfortable environment while they’re going through some very traumatic issues,” he said. “I would encourage anyone that can to donate to this cause because it is a never-ending cycle – they’re always buying updated technology and care and it’s an infinite game with that. You just gotta keep moving forward.”
For more information about WVU Medicine Children’s, the great work they are doing, or how to donate, visit their website at childrens.wvumedicine.org.