MARIETTA - It's every child's dream to get behind the wheel of a sporty, red Ford Mustang, turn up the radio, hit the gas pedal and head out into adventure.
Christopher Wehr, 6, of Caldwell had the chance to do just that - indoors, anyway - as he slid into the bucket seat of one of four battery-operated Fisher Price Power Wheels Ford Mustangs set up in a meeting room at Uni-Select's offices in Marietta Friday.
"He's pretty excited. He's happy about it and he has a big smile," said Tiffany Wehr, 32, of Caldwell, Christopher's mother. Christoper, who has cerebral palsy and a seizure disorder, goes to Ewing School in Marietta.
Photo by Sharon Bopp
Marian Mullins, divisional operations manager for Uni-Select of Marietta, helps Christopher Wehr, 6, of Caldwell operate a battery-powered car at Uni-Select’s offices Friday.
Thanks to a pay-it-forward donation from the Marietta Shrine Club, Christopher and some of his Ewing classmates will have the chance to drive one of the four zippy, stylin' Power Wheels. Each vehicle has a working radio and can be driven in forward and reverse.
"We were approached by Marietta Ignition (part of Uni-Select) and told that they had four battery-powered Power Wheels units to donate," said Ed Flanders, Marietta Shrine Club member.
Uni-Select is installing a new integrated computer system, called an enterprise resource planning system, at all its distribution centers across the United States and Canada.
To train for the system's installation at the Marietta distribution center on Dec. 3, employees were split into teams of six to 12 participants and given the challenge of assembling a battery-operated Fisher Price Power Wheels Ford Mustang.
"It was one of the best training exercises we've ever done. Employees were not sitting in a training class, they got to physically do the work before we went live on the system," said Marian Mullins, divisional operations manager for Uni-Select.
"Plus, it allowed them to make an act of generosity for the happiness of children," she added.
Flanders was in agreement.
"The timing of this and the season are great," he said, noting that Shriners provide care to children throughout the year without regard to race, creed or ability to pay.
The Marietta Shrine Club provides transportation and lodging to area children needing medical assistance and their families.
Most of that local assistance involves trips to the Shriners orthopedic and burn facilities at Shriners Hospital for Children, Cincinnati and to its Erie, Pa., burn unit, said Flanders.
Marietta Ignition and the Marietta Shrine Club are long-time local businesses that "combined their resources and were able to do something on a local level," Flanders said.
B.J. Henry, supervisor of therapy at Ewing School, was thrilled about the donation.
"We're very appreciative of the gift and the joy it will bring to students at the school," he said.
Once the integrated system is fully implemented, Uni-Select will have donated more than 150 toy cars across the U.S. and Canada, Mullins said.
Uni-Select operates 11 regional retail part stores that are supplied by the Uni-Select distribution center at 121 Tennis Center Drive, Marietta.