Spend five minutes with Joe Eckart, president of BEST Courier, Inc., and it quickly becomes apparent that he wears his enormous heart on his sleeve.
Among the many kindnesses Eckart shows—to his staff, for whom he cooks elaborate meals several times a year in the office kitchen; to his wife, two children and three grandchildren, whom he dotes on; and to the 30 or so area nonprofits that are on the receiving end of free-of-charge deliveries or other support—he also provides complimentary courier service to the advancement team at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).
“I’m a soft touch,” he admits, then jokes: “Don’t tell anyone.”
His relationship with the OSUCCC – James began through a delivery gone wrong that sent Eckart to James Foundation Board member Dave Ryan’s home to apologize personally. “It was the luckiest day of my life when I met Dave,” says Eckart, “because he got me involved with The James.” When Ryan asked Eckart what he was doing for The James, it hit at a time when Eckart was ready to help; two of his closest friends had just been diagnosed with cancer.
The conversation that began that day resulted in a tremendous partnership, as BEST Courier now provides thousands of complimentary deliveries for the OSUCCC – James each year, including informational packets for board members, marketing materials, notes to donors and more. “Some people may wonder how The James can afford the courier service,” says Eckart, “but it’s free.”
In addition to the pro bono delivery services, Eckart and BEST Courier also help staff at Ohio State’s University Hospital East, with whom they’ve bonded during laboratory deliveries, reach their fundraising goals for Pelotonia. Last year BEST Courier sponsored a golf tournament in memory of Shelli Kazlausky, the University Hospital East employee who died tragically during Pelotonia 2010. It drew in 84 golfers and raised $30,000 to cover the hospital employees’ Pelotonia fees. The tournament, now in its fourth year, is organized through the hard work of University Hospital East Administrative Director Lou Flocken. This year, BEST Courier is sponsoring a “virtual rider” in Pelotonia and is encouraging its customers to make donations, the first $20 of which the company will match.
Eckart urges other small and medium-sized businesses to get involved with the OSUCCC – James. “We’re a small company, but small companies can make a big difference,” he says, smiling. “At least we think we can.
“You’ll get more back from The James than what you give.
There is no better cause in Columbus.