“Cecil” is Born In Kansas
Imagine that you are the Marketing Director of a local hospital? Okay, if that does not seem possible, how about being the CEO of a hospital? Or how about Director of Nursing? None of those fit? Okay, how about just working for a hospital that is a fun place to work, where everybody is encouraged to share ideas and work towards a common goal. Okay so far?
In an employee meeting, the Director of Nursing came up with the idea of building an old ambulance for use as a marketing tool, having hospital employee’s volunteer time and resources to build it and have the CEO of the hospital volunteer paint it. Well that in a nutshell is how “Cecil”, a rehabilitated ambulance/mascot, was born.
Here is the story…
Back in 1997. Tyce Young the director of nursing for Clay County Medical Center and his good friend Brian Komar were alley shopping in Clay Center for old cars and discovered an old 1940’s model bread truck sitting behind a mechanic’s garage. After a closer look they decided the truck needed to somehow end up in their collection. So they paid me a visit at my shop, Fifth Avenue Antique Auto Parts, to see if I knew anything about the old truck and who the owner might be. Turns out, I did. I owned the truck.
I had rescued the truck—a 1947 GMC one-ton bread truck—from a field a few years prior. It was back to running the week before and so I parked outside until I could figure out where it was going next.
After some negotiations the truck had a new owner and was moved to Tyce’s driveway. With the neighbors being less than impressed with the new addition (eyesore) to the neighborhood, the truck was moved to Idana, Kansas, for storage in a lot owned by Tyce and Brian.
Now fast forward back to the summer of 2005. The hospital wanted to get involved with the community and needed ideas for the Piotique parade, an annual festival held in September every year. The staff was looking at building a parade float.
During the meeting, Tyce brought up the idea of building an old ambulance for use in the parade and for public relations. The hospital worked out a deal with Tyce to acquire the old truck, the hospital staff would help fix it up, and the CEO of the hospital, Ron Bender, would paint it. It would be a true hospital-community effort. And, once the word got out about the project, everyone pitched in.
But first, the truck had to be rescued from the lot in Idana. The truck had been sitting for about eight years, inhabited by a few field mice, and angry bees and wasps not thrilled about losing their home. A few stings later, the truck was on its way to Clay Center, with additional time out for a flat tire and other miscellaneous minor delays.
Once the truck arrived at the maintenance area, I loaned my expertise to the project as well as providing a much needed siren and red beacon light along with other miscellaneous parts and pieces. Staff member Nancy Hess and her husband donated parts along with more parts from a 1966 VW and a 1988 Lincoln. Two spare tires came from an old Dodge pickup. And, there were more parts to be found along the way.
True to his word CEO Ron Bender painted the truck and along the way acquired the nickname “Fender Bender.” The hospital staff added the last touch, christening the mascot truck “Cecil.”
The project was a huge success with many donations of time and resources coming not only from the hospital staff but also from the community as a whole. The truck won first place in the Piotique parade. Not bad for a project that was physically started the first day of August and was completed in time for the parade on September 20th, just 50 days later.
“Cecil was a fun project that had the support of the entire hospital staff and the community…I cannot thank this community enough for making this project a success,” says Marsha Newell Marketing Director for the Clay County Medical Center.
“Cecil has become an excellent marketing tool and regularly visits local schools, and also attends many community events including the Relay for Life,” she adds