It’s a story of giving back or maybe even paying it forward.

Whichever you call it, the Rickers feel blessed to able to do it.
Six years ago Ron and Sharon Ricker’s grandson, Jaxon Guthrie, was diagnosed with a Stage 4 Wilm’s Tumor, a type of childhood cancer. During Jaxon’s treatments at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Jaxon’s mother and father received an outpouring of financial and emotional support from the community. Community members often times sent packages to St. Jude’s for Jaxon, anonymously paid their utility bills, or furnished gift and gas cards for the family. Jaxon should have began Kindergarten during the same time he was in treatment, but was unable to do so. His class took him on as a community project. The children brought in their change in Jaxon’s honor and the money was used to purchase gas cards.  While Ron often times stayed back in Scottsboro to handle things on the home front, he and his wife also visited St. Jude’s. His daughter, Laura, says “Dad helped me pull it together. A lot of times my parents would come to St. Jude’s for the weekend. If we knew Jaxon was going to have a rough week, mom would stay and dad would drive back at the end of the week to pick her up.”  
Following Jaxon’s illness, Ron and his wife often looked for ways to give back to the community. At Jaxon’s baseball game last year in Madison, Ron was spotted staring at a Kona Ice cup.  About three months later, Laura says she received a video about Kona Ice from her father with a message that said “How cool would it be if we owned this? “Since seeing the cup months earlier, Ron had began researching the company. He says that he had been looking for a way to give back, a way to say thank you to the community that pulled his family through the hard times, and Kona Ice was the perfect match. He said, “I  couldn’t let the opportunity pass when I found out how much this company gives back to communities. It’s the best thing I’ve seen with any company. A lot of our local organizations, including our schools, don’t have enough and aren’t recognized enough. “Not long after sending the message to his daughter, Ron and Sharon went for a one week training seminar.  Laura said that throughout the week she contacted her dad to see if he had changed his mind. She said his excitement seemed to grow throughout the week and that he was so excited about the opportunity to give back to the community.
Kona Ice’s escape from the ordinary begins as the sounds of tropical calypso music fills the air at each event and group gathering. The fun continues as all in attendance get their overflowing cups of freshly shaved ice and then help themselves to any of the ten tastes on the truck’s Flavorwave™ (an interactive dispensing system in which individuals select from one or more of the flavors to pour over their fluffy snow) or the additional 20-plus flavors and 500 different combinations available.
“It’s an opportunity to enjoy a unique, tropical treat,” added Sharon. “For a few dollars, you can experience the excitement of the truck, flavor your own Kona Ice, donate to an organization you care about and kick back for a few minutes enjoying the sounds of the tropics. It’s an escape that everyone can enjoy.”
Equally as appealing about the launch of Kona Ice of Big Cove, Scottsboro, Rainsville, LLC is its philanthropic commitment to the communities it serves. The couple is continuing the mobile franchise’s tradition of donating thousands of dollars each year to local school groups, teams and community organizations. As they book events with these groups, they pledge to give back a percentage of the proceeds from each stop. Nationwide, Kona Ice has donated $50 million to community-based organizations since the launch in June 2007.
“Ron and Sharon share our commitment to giving back,” said Tony Lamb, founder and president of Florence, Ky.-based Kona Ice. “The couple wants to have a positive influence on the people in their community. Six years ago, when their family needed support, the community came together to help them, and now they are motivated to give back. We are proud to have them on-board. Together, we are excited to make a difference in the lives of those around us.”
Today, the 10-year old Jaxon is a healthy, happy boy, able to play baseball and all the things kids do. But he also spends time with his grandparents, giving back to the community.
The Rickers are often seen in their Kona Ice truck at schools, baseball games, working with Relay for Life teams at local grocery stores, or sitting in an empty lot on Park’s Avenue. Some days they even give free Kona Ice for donations to St. Jude’s. The Boys and Girls Club, Skyline High School, Relay for Life and other local organizations have been beneficiaries of the Rickers giving back or paying it forward.


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