Sep. 26, 2021
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and those in the equipment and event rental industry now have an easy, cost-free way to help promote this special cause. The charge is being led by one parent who is a member of the community and whose family has been personally impacted by childhood cancer.
In December 2018, at 12 years old, Jacob Bell was diagnosed with Stage IV Rhabdomyosarcoma cancer. Jacob, the son of Michael Bell, CEO/president, Robert Bell Insurance Brokers, Fallbrook, Calif., and an ARA Insurance preferred agent, endured more than 60 chemotherapy treatments, many weeks of hospitalization and nearly 100 blood draws as he battled the disease.
With his diagnosis, Jacob became one of the more than 15,000 children in the U.S. who are diagnosed with cancer each year. The good news for Jacob is that today, he is “20 months in remission. He’ll be 15 in November, and he’s been through a lot,” Bell says.
Jacob’s fight motivated Bell to become an advocate for childhood cancer awareness. Looking for ways he could shed more light onto the cause — which he feels has not been championed as prominently as it should — Bell drew inspiration from other cancer awareness tactics utilized within the equipment rental industry.
“During Jacob’s treatment I was inspired by seeing pink equipment that honored breast cancer awareness,” he says. “Rental equipment is out there 24/7 on job sites. Thousands of people see it every day. I wanted to use that as an opportunity to raise awareness, so people know childhood cancer is an issue.”
The problem for Bell, though, was that the pre-existing childhood cancer awareness decals he found were not his own property to reproduce and, beyond that, were stylistically unsuitable for placement on rental equipment. That’s when he decided to take matters into his own hands.
“I decided to create and trademark my own logo to be placed on rental equipment and delivery vehicles throughout the country. So, I spent a couple hundred bucks to have a decal made,” Bell says, adding that “I wanted it to look cool on construction equipment, so I went with an orange color — which also is Jacob’s favorite color — and gold, because gold is the ribbon color for childhood cancer awareness.”
Hawkeye Equipment Rentals in Fontana, Calif., was the first rental company to adorn their equipment with Bell’s decal in September 2019. “I was renewing their policy one day and asked if I could put these decals on their equipment. Not only did they agree, but they also printed about 20 more of the decals for free with their in-house decal machine,” Bell says.
Bell then took to LinkedIn to spread the word about his decals and to invite others in the industry to participate. It was a campaign that resulted in help from some unexpected sources.
“After Hawkeye Equipment printed off that first 20, I was spending my own money printing off decals. Then Nick Tykoski, owner of safetydecals.com, out of Michigan, reached out to offer his services. I asked if he could give me a discount, and he said, ‘I’ll provide them for free. Just tell me what you want,’” Bell says.
After placing his decals on machines at more than 30 rental companies, mostly regional clients of his, Bell received a generous offer from halfway across the country that he hopes sets a precedent for others in the industry.
“I connected with Ali Zaimi, president of Olympic Equipment Rentals in Elk Grove Village, Ill., on LinkedIn. He’s not a client of mine at all, but he has put some of my decals on his equipment over the past year and a half. Recently, I posted on LinkedIn asking if anybody in the rental industry would be interested in wrapping one of their whole machines with my decal. I would pay for the wrapping. Ali said he would do it. On top of that, he would donate 25 percent of the rental revenue from the machine to children’s cancer. I never asked for that; it was just out of the kindness of his heart. It was a big decision for him, and I want to thank him for that,” Bell says.
Bell says that Zaimi is working with a local company to wrap an entire JLG boom with the artwork. “We’re going to post pictures and it’s going to be all over the Chicago area, which is awesome, because it’s a major metropolitan area. We [Olympic Equipment Rentals and childhood cancer awareness] are going to get recognition,” he says.
“I truly appreciate all that Michael is doing to spread awareness,” Zaimi says. “While I have never had a child suffer from cancer, I am a father of three children, ages 12, 9, and 8. I cannot imagine how heartbreaking it would be to go through that battle with a child. I am a small business owner that stumbled across Michael’s posts on LinkedIn a few years back. His efforts to spread awareness touched me in a way that truly motivated me to offer up my service to help get involved.”
Bell says that no matter what, he is in the childhood cancer awareness crusade for the long haul.
“I don’t want other parents to go through what we’ve been through,” Bell says. “Cancer does not discriminate. It doesn’t care what color you are, how rich or poor you are, what your religious background is or what sex you are. I will do this until the day I die or the day we cure childhood cancer.”
Bell invites rental operators everywhere to join him in the cause by simply placing his decal on their equipment, and offers an easy, free way for those interested to get their hands on some of the decals.
“Just reach out to me at email@example.com or request some through Nick at safetydecals.com,” Bell says. “I’m not asking people to do their whole fleet. If you want to, that’s awesome. But even if you put them on two, three or four machines, it helps. All we need is for one person to see that decal and say, ‘I want to be a doctor or researcher,’ or ‘I am a researcher; maybe I should look into childhood cancer.’ One person looking at that decal could be the difference between having a cure and not having a cure.”
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