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Park Place for Preemies

Park Place for Preemies

The morning after he quit a sales job he loathed, George Johnson had a problem: he was 21, unemployed and still living at home. He needed to find a new job quickly. Luckily for George, a friend of his had just started at a local car dealership.

"I took a job selling cars until I could find a real job," said George. Now, 38 years later, George oversees Park Place Motorcars Fort Worth as the executive general manager.

"I was always passionate about cars, but never realized how much so," said George, when he recalled how his temporary gig turned into a career. "I think I really fell in love with connection with the client. I still remember the first person I sold a car to. She was so joyful and I felt such a connection after sharing this exciting moment in her life. I was hooked."

This past year, many nonprofits in our community had to reimagine in-person fundraising events due to the pandemic. That included the annual Pickin' for Preemies benefiting Cook Children's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). With the move to a virtual event, we weren't sure if we'd receive the same level of community support, but Park Place Motor Cars Fort Worth stepped up and generously chose to sponsor the online silent auction.

The Pickin' for Preemies family was elated. Plus, it was a meaningful decision for George.

Years ago, when George and his wife Cathy were living in Northern California, they had their own experience in a NICU. Their youngest son Dylan was born two months early, weighing just 3 pounds and 11 ounces.

"You know, you just go into survival mode at that point," said George. "What we were so impressed with was all the nurses and doctors in that NICU. They must be highly trained on how to handle parents. You have to keep the parents in the game."

Dylan spent six weeks in the NICU before being sent home with his loving parents, and the experience left a mark on George and Cathy. George and Park Place supported Cook Children's through contributions to Jewel Charity for eight years, making donations totaling half a million dollars, and Cathy spent time volunteering in the NICU as a baby rocker. When George heard about Pickin' for Preemies, he saw a way for Park Place to directly help NICU families.

"I've always had a special place in my heart for Cook Children's because of what they do for children, especially with preemies, so when I saw that, it just kind of hit me over the head," said George.

Without the support of corporate sponsors like Park Place and passionate leaders like George, Cook Children's simply wouldn't be the incredible place that it is today.