When it comes to making a real difference in people’s lives, few come close to Nissan dealer, turned philanthropist, Don Forman. Being a person whose life has felt the positive impact of the Fox5 Surprise Squad, I can attest -without bias- that he is a generous man indeed. But to state it in so few words would be an understatement of what he has managed to achieve in Las Vegas in the past few years. It’s simply phenomenal how one man can come together with others to start an outreach program that springs up the kind of surprises they dole out. The Fox5 Surprise Squad is a truly ingenious way to spread love, cheer and merriment. Kudo’s to them, but for now, my story.
My first contact with the man came years after I had initially caught wind of the groundbreaking work he was doing. Back then, he was still pioneering what today is the Fox5 Surprise Squad. As part of a small research group that was looking at ways to empower local communities using homegrown solutions based on already available human resource potential, I was tasked with monitoring small scale philanthropic activities in Las Vegas. The whole idea was to scout for philanthropic potential and harness it for a greater cause. So it didn’t come as a “surprise” that in the wake of the Mandalay Bay shooting, it was Don Forman’s United Nissan dealership that raced to the rescue of more than 500 wounded people to collect blood from willing donors. A seemingly normal humanitarian act, but it spoke volumes of his kind heart.
Fox5’s Surprise Squad was started in 2014. Financed by Don Forman’s United Nissan, American First Credit Union, Vons and Albertsons, it is a program that picks people who are in need of help randomly. They then approach whoever is fortunate to be selected and, live on camera, surprises them. Every moment is captured in detail -as nothing is rehearsed- and streamed on television and on Youtube. To date, hundreds of people have been touched by his extended hand of generosity, the stories are tear jerking.
One man – Glen Zanis- whom also runs social welfare initiatives- received $25 000 for rent, $20 000 to start a non-profit and a triler, truck and tools to help ease the daily demands of his cross making initiative. Now, rewind a couple of months and it’s thanksgiving. Guess who steps up again with free Thanksgiving turkey and free groceries? Yes, Don Norman. The stories -which have now assumed myth status in such a short time- are endless.
I can never come to terms with the reality of a world without philanthropists like Don Forman. Every few years you hear of entrepreneurs who have made it big, but those who give back, are a drop in the ocean. Because of their selfless sacrifices the gap between the rich and the poor is slowly becoming narrower. From personal experience, a soothing calm comes over you when it dawns on you that there are such good hearted people like Donald C. Forman in the world.