I can hear you smiling.
- Kirsten Dowd, Customer Service
I can’t even mend my own socks, so I don’t get to do any of the sewing here at Stormy Kromer. But I do get to talk directly to our fans and help them with their orders. That’s about the best thing ever, and my greatest reward is having a happy customer on the other end of the line. Trust me, you can hear their smiles.
I talk to so many folks throughout the day—maybe I’m helping them pick out a cap, or sometimes they just want to chat. Either way, my job is to give them the best experience they can possibly have.
And you know, I think I’m doing an okay job. My most memorable call, for example, was a marriage proposal from a happy customer! I did have to turn him down gently, as I am already spoken for, but it was a great compliment.
Nominated by: Tim Obukowicz, fellow volunteer & Melissa Nieman, friend
We nominate 63-year-old Joseph “Ironman Joe” Pettorini for his dedication to his love of sports, Mother Nature, and his volunteer work for our local YMCA.
Locally, his endurance activities are legendary. He has participated in 238 triathlons, 6 Ironman-length triathlons and over 37 running marathons. He has also completed the Ice Age 50-mile trail run and the 4-day Minnesota Border to Border competition. Joe is an avid snowshoe racer, having competed in the 2011 National Snowshoe Racing Championships, and is on the planning board for the Treehaven Snowshoe Race. In May, 2008 he kayaked the entire 430-mile length of the Wisconsin River. Joe bicycled around Lake Superior in 2010 with a friend and their journey was featured in several magazines. His current dream is to compete in the New Zealand International Ironman Distance Triathlon before turning 65.
His work as a YMCA of the Northwoods volunteer is just as impressive. Joe is at the Y at least 20 hours a week, and willing to do anything – from picking up a paint brush to handing out candy on Halloween to dressing up as an elf for Christmas. Joe’s most memorable volunteer moment was riding a spinning bike for 6 hours in our lobby to raise funds for our Strong Kids Campaign. The Strong Kids Campaign ensures no child is turned away from the Y due to financial circumstances. The Strong Kids Campaign also applies to adults seeking financial assistance to participate in or be a member of the YMCA. In 2011 he was named Volunteer of the Year.
We never have to ask him to help, he is always there saying, “When do you need me?” When asked why he loves to help us so much (especially why he dressed up as an elf) he said, “I was never blessed with children, and I loved seeing them smiling, happy, and having fun.”
We could go on all day about Ironman Joe. You truly have not met someone like him, he is family to everyone he meets and we are beyond blessed to have him in our lives. He is truly worthy of the title “Stormy Kromer Living Legend.”
Charity: YMCA of the Northwoods
Hometown: Rhinelander, WI
Nominated by: Beth Morrison, daughter
My dad has been my hero my entire life but I didn’t fully come to appreciate him until I was much older. As a young 19 year old he was off to WWII and stepped up early on for the tough and dangerous role of a glider paratrooper. He brought his fearlessness and strong work ethic back home to Detroit at the end of the war, his Purple Heart in hand.
Dad, now married to my mom and a new father, worked hard to save funds to work toward his dream of owning his own business. After being sidetracked with being called back to serve again during the Korean War, he and my mom finally made that dream a reality.
With his love for northern Michigan, he brought his growing family of 3 kids to Hillman and bought a small grocery store. Our family grew and so did the business. My dad still found time to attend his now 5 children’s sporting events, serve on the school board, volunteer at church and help the community. One time in an awful snowstorm I recall helping him deliver groceries on a snowmobile to older folks who were snowed in. He was always looking out for his neighbors. Dad hired so many Hillman teens at the store that decades later he still receives phone calls and visits from these now much older adults.
And still at 87 years old you will see Dad ringing the Salvation Army bell for hours in the cold and with his Stormy Kromer on – he has been ringing that bell for over 60 years! His love for family, his community, his friends and his faith have left strong marks on the lives of my siblings and so many others. He is one of a kind and a true living legend.
Charity: Salvation Army
Hometown: Hillman, MI