Experiencing exceptional and compassionate treatment at a children’s hospital was life-changing for Josh Meltzer, Vice President of Collections Services at America’s Car-Mart.
He first visited a children’s hospital in the 7th grade when he was diagnosed with a slight curvature in his back. He then wore a brace for a few years. His next trip to a children’s hospital was at age 16 for spine surgery.
Both visits were noteworthy for Josh. “It’s amazing at how the hospital employees work the kids through the processes,” says Josh. “They listen and really take care of the kids. They are people who go above and beyond – not because it’s a kid, but because they are deeply passionate about helping children.”
“What I saw at the hospital – how they treated patients, families, and my family and me – I wanted to emulate that because that’s how you should treat people,” Josh continues.
Spring forward to today, Josh is healthy and often visits children at his local children’s hospital to pay it forward. “People don’t realize it’s lonely in the hospital,” says Josh, who couldn’t be happier that Car-Mart conducts a Holiday Toy Drive every November. For the 12th year, Car-Mart dealerships will collect toys for delivery to kids at children’s hospitals.
Bringing joy to the kids – “what an opportunity”
“Supporting the hospital and the kids – it’s a tremendous cause. These are kids who are hurting so with our toy drive we can bring a little bit of joy to them,” says Josh. “Some of these children are experiencing a life-changing event as a child that most adults couldn’t deal with. Their emotions are trapped inside of a small body and they don’t have the words to express it.”
“Think about a child – the zeal that a kid has for the holidays and believing in Santa Claus,” he continues. “To be a kid and be in the hospital through the holidays — and be sick and not have a Christmas. To me, we have a moral obligation to ensure this doesn’t happen.”
“At Car-Mart, we frequently talk about our mission and values – to improve the communities we serve, and these kids are part of our communities,” Josh says.
Josh was destined for athletic greatness in high school as a baseball player and quarterback for his football team. He was voted Most Athletic in the 8th grade and he planned to play college sports.
His life took a turn with one hard-hitting, blindside tackle in a Friday night football game. He sustained four broken ribs close to where they connect to the spine. When he started to heal, his spine twisted towards the broken ribs. He was advised he could wear a brace (again) and do physical therapy or have surgery. Josh opted for surgery at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, Ark.
Surgery was a terrifying proposition for Josh, and he was fearful that after the surgery he may not be able to walk. “I was beyond scared,” he says, while adding he vividly recalls the day of the surgery.
“The nurses were the most compassionate people I’ve ever met. The way they handled that stuff was unbelievable,” mentions Josh. He remembers waking up and being told it was a successful surgery. “I remember the flood of emotion and asking if I could walk.”
“I went into this situation having one plan for my whole life and I came out wondering what now. Sports was all I ever knew. I loved sports,” says Josh, who then picked up a guitar and played in a band and found other ways to connect with his fellow students.
“My experience at the children’s hospital helped shape my thoughts, that moment of self-realization that my life is different, so what does my life look like now,” Josh says. “It was a life-changing experience for me, and it took me out of my little bubble, and I recognized there was a lot more in life than just playing sports.”
“I would never have gotten into music, and it’s a big part of my life today. I would never have dedicated myself to my studies the way I did. I wouldn’t be where I am at today without that surgery,” says Josh.
“Christmas really is for kids”
For Josh, it’s about the kids. “I work for a company that is not looking inward at doing more business at this time of year. I work for a company that constantly looks for ways to make an impact in our communities, and specifically at Christmas time. After all, Christmas really is for kids,” says Josh. “And I can’t think of a better place to put our energy than with children who are sick and may not have any type of Christmas if we didn’t do this.”
“I want to give one kid the same type of experience that I had – to where they went in one way and came out with a different outlook on life,” Josh concludes. “When I can do that, I’ve done something meaningful.”
Share your Joy – Give a Toy
During November, it’s our Holiday Toy Drive campaign at America’s Car-Mart! Bring in a new, unwrapped toy (valued at $10 or more) and take advantage of half off the down payment on any vehicle. Or just drop off a toy.
The hospitals to receive toys as part of Car-Mart’s Holiday Toy Drive include:
- Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Little Rock, Ark.
- Arkansas Children’s Northwest Hospital, Springdale, Ark.
- Children’s of Alabama, Birmingham, Ala.
- Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Atlanta, Ga.
- Children’s Medical Center, Dallas, Texas
- Cook Children’s Medical Center, Fort Worth, Texas
- Mercy Children’s Hospital, Springfield, Mo.
- Norton Children’s Hospital, Louisville, Ky.
- John’s Medical Center, Tulsa, Okla.
- Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, Tenn.
- The Children’s Hospital, Oklahoma City, Okla.
- The Children’s Hospital at St. Francis, Tulsa, Okla.
- TriStar Centennial Medical Center, Nashville, Tenn.
- Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Columbia, Mo.
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