Alan Pflueger, president of Pflueger Automotive Group, epitomizes the phrase “work hard, play hard.” Born and raised in Hawaii, Pflueger, 38, rides motorcycles, surfs and competes in triathlons. His profile page at www.pfluegerracing.com, the official home of the Pflueger Racing Ohana, lists his occupation as “to win and to learn to be my best!” But after speaking with him, you realize what Pfleuger does best is helping others flash a winning smile.
“It’s about putting a smile on a little child’s face who’s having a challenging day,” he said recently at Shriner’s Hospital for Children. Pflueger and his automotive team were there to surprise the tiny patients (one of whom is Carolyn Laeb, pictured above) with a big gift: two brand new mini-HUMMER battery-operated vehicles.
“We live in Hawaii, and Hawaii’s a great place,” he explained. “We’ve got a great community here and there’s a lot of giving that goes on. This is a great little toy that we can share with kids and brighten their day and make them smile. We’re just really happy to be able to be a part of it.”
The HUMMER “Courageous Kids” program is nationally sponsored by parent company General Motors. Of the 173 nationwide HUMMER dealerships, Pflueger HUMMER (located at 1234 S. Beretania St.) is one of the first to participate in the program. The local company receives child-sized mini-HUMMERs to give to the childrens’ wards of hospitals. The children drive themselves to their X-rays, surgeries or other medical procedures rather than having to be pushed in a gurney or wheelchair. This gives the children back a sense of control and power that they have lost because of their ailments.
Dale Aoki, who works with Pflueger, said they notify all the hospitals statewide about this program and, once they receive a reply, supply as many vehicles as the hospitals can accommodate.
“We’ve put the word out to several different hospitals. Whoever will respond, we’re very happy to be able to donate,” she stated. In addition to the two at Shriner’s, three mini-HUMMERs have been donated to Kapiolani Hospital and one to the downtown Kaiser clinic.
“I think the only challenge is getting them enough batteries - they’re gonna want to run [the toys] all day,” Pflueger added, giving a little boy a high-five as he raced past in a yellow blur. “That’s what it’s about! We’re all really blessed with many things in life, and I just think it’s nice to be able to give back.
“My hat’s off to all the people who do take their time to help others. No matter how big, how small, how busy you are ... It’s just the little things we can do in life, keeping the aloha spirit that we share special to the islands.”
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