Autism is a debilitating disease with no known cure, Scott Huggins, vice president of AirWorx, Construction Equipment & Supply, an equipment rental, sales and service company in Indianapolis, Indiana has a child, diagnosed with autism. He, along with AirWorx president Dick Kagy, decided that they wanted to do something to help ease the burden on families affected by the disease.
After reading a story about a rental company in Iowa that used its boom lifts to raise money for breast cancer awarenesslink[/en/stories.php?id=6377](See Big Pink machine), Huggins contacted Tim Morris, vice president, market development and sales for the Americas for JLG, one of AirWorx’s largest equipment suppliers. Huggins wanted to see if JLG would work with AirWorx to produce a uniquely designed boom lift that could help promote autism awareness.
Morris has a six year old son who is also affected with autism and both he and his wife are champions of the cause so they knew how much work is needed to help promote awareness.
The idea was simple – AirWorx would purchase the boom lift for its rental fleet and JLG would paint it a special color and create unique “jigsaw puzzle” graphics that would cover the entire surface of the machine to symbolise the pieces of the Autism puzzle that have yet to be completed. The boom lift would then be rented to AirWorx’s customers and a percentage of the rental income would be donated to fund autism-related activities.
In addition to AirWorx’s contribution, rental customers could elect to contribute an additional amount over the rental rate, with 100 percent of that amount going directly to autism-related programs.
After presenting the idea to JLG management, Morris received the go ahead and work began on the machine. AirWorx took delivery in November and is donating 20 percent of all rental revenue generated, with half going to the Autism Society of America, and the other half set aside for a scholarship to The Independence Academy, a unique new school in Indianapolis that specialises in education for middle and high school students with high-functioning autism.
The Independence Academy is a private, non-profit, non-sectarian school that was created by and for families affected by autism. The school was opened in September 2008 and features a low student-to-teacher ratio, individualized curriculum and a structured day for each student that includes social and life skills training and self-awareness development. Tuition costs $10,500 per academic year and the contributions from AirWorx will go toward reducing much of this expense for scholarship recipients.
Based on AirWorx’s current rental rates for the boom lift, it is anticipated that over $7,000 per year will be set aside for contributions to ASA and the scholarships to the Independence Academy, with upwards of $70,000 donated over the life of AirWork’s commitment. According to Huggins and Kagy however, if things work out as planned, this could just be the start of an even greater commitment in the future.
After taking delivery of the unique JLG® machine, AirWorx immediately placed it on rent with Tonn and Blank Construction Company, an 86-year old Michigan City, Indiana based company that offers general construction, design/build, and project management services to the institutional, commercial, and industrial markets. The machine was delivered to a construction site in Greenwood, Indiana where Tonn and Blank was building an addition to St. Francis Hospital.
From the time the machine was off-loaded from the delivery vehicle, it has caught the attention of almost everyone who has seen it. After all, it’s hard to miss a bright yellow machine with red and blue jigsaw piece graphics. Said Project Superintendent Bryan Cooper, “Tonn and Blank is proud to be a part of this important program. Not only are our workers asking about the significance of the graphics, we’ve had people who were walking by stop us and ask about it. If the purpose of doing this was to get people to notice, it has certainly done that.”
As a “thank you” to the customers who rent the unique JLG boom lift, AirWorx will have the customers’ name, project name and amount of money their rental of the machine raised for Autism printed on a label that will be placed on top of one of the colored jigsaw piece graphics on the machine. It will become a permanent part of the design and serve as a testament to those who helped create awareness for autism and generated funds to help those affected with the disorder.