When a young boy was diagnosed with Leukemia and required treatment at Oakland Children’s Hospital, a reliable vehicle was a major obstacle in ensuring he would receive it. Dolan stepped in offering a car from one of his many lots in Reno, which the family used a total of 12 times to travel to California, the boy’s mother said it made “a world of difference” for her son.
“I always believe the more you give, the more you receive,” Dolan said. “A child like that deserves a shot in life, and anybody else who hears of a child in need or something like that, I would be more than willing to help them out.”
The tear-jerking story began a ceremony to honor Dolan as the recipient of the Sparks Sertoma Club’s Service to Mankind Award, which annually honors those in the community donating time, money and effort to serve the Sparks area. Dolan received the award during the Sparks Sertoma’s annual awards breakfast Tuesday morning at the Holiday Inn in Sparks.
While Dolan’s three-car dealerships reside in Reno, Sparks Mayor Geno Martini said that his support in the Sparks community has not gone unnoticed.
“Even though Tommy doesn’t have any businesses here, any time a car is sold in Reno 20 percent of the sales tax comes to Sparks,” Martini said with a smile. “Tommy has always been great. We have so many local businesses here that just don’t give back to the community, and I want to say Dolan Automotive is not one of those. They are very involved in the community.
“They give and give, and when they are hurting they give a little more. It’s not just with their funds, it is with their time as well and I think that is beneficial to our community. It’s all about northern Nevada. It’s not just about Sparks and Reno, but all of Washoe County.”
Dolan joked back and forth with Martini, offering facts such as “the largest zip code for Dolan Auto Group in sales in 89431,” as his reasons for supporting Sparks. Dolan’s support of the Washoe County School District, Catholic charities and many more local non-profit organizations is something he does not plan to stop.
“I appreciate this award,” Dolan said. “It is very nice for Sertoma to do this. We don’t do enough for the community and what I try to teach my kids and everybody else is they have to continue to grow in that and continue to support the community. If we could just get some of the other guys who are making a lot of money to support an eighth of what we try to do in this area — anything — it would help.”
Sparks Sertoma members cited Dolan’s help with the Sertoma Football Classic, a high school all-star game featuring the top local high school seniors, as one of the major donations of time and money. Dolan said the annual event, which recently held its 32nd game, holds a special place in his heart and, after hearing rumors of its decline and possible disappearance, he said he will do what is necessary to help.
“If there is anything that I can do in the future, we will be talking about that,” Dolan said, “And we will always support the Sertoma Club and we will always support the football game and it better not stop. That is sort of my thing and I will always support that, hugely, as I did last year and I will again next year. We make it a deal and I will take care of it.”
The Sparks Sertoma Club also handed out its Sertoman of the Year award, the highest honor for any current club member, to 22-year servant Harvey Klitzke. Klitzke has held nearly every position possible in the Sparks Sertoma Club and just finished another year spearheading the organization efforts on the Sertoma Classic.
With chants of “speech, speech” coming from the breakfast crowd, Klitzke admitted he was “not very good on speeches.”
“I am very honored to be selected as Sertoman of the Year,” Klitzke said, attempting to hold back his emotions. “I am very proud and I am trying to keep it together, but I just can’t. I could not do it without my wife of 44 years. I have a great family and I love the Sertoma Club.
“We try to do the best we can and we only have 18 members, and with the help of the community, I think we can get younger members in. Without them, the club won’t make it and we won’t be able to help the community.”
The Sparks Sertoma Club also awarded its Audiology Scholarship given to local students planning to study and remain in Nevada to serve the hearing impaired. Emily Whistler, a current graduate student at the University of Nevada, Reno, plans to enter the pediatric medical speech pathology field when she finishes with her doctoral degree in the coming years.
“I just really happen to love school, and I probably love it too much because I sign up for everything. So this scholarship is really going to help me with all of that,” Whistler said. “I have to write a thesis that will hopefully consider me for a doctoral degree in the future. My big push is to expand the pediatric facilities in Nevada and when I return from my internship in Portland (Ore.) I will be able to use the breadth of knowledge I acquired there to help people in Nevada.”