Spend some time talking to Donnie Ketter, and it’s apparent that he has a deep respect for our troops.
“These are people who go above and beyond to protect us and our country,” he says. “They have my deepest gratitude, and I’m so thankful for their service.”
But in his capacity as general sales manager at Kalispell Toyota in Kalispell, Montana, Ketter wanted to put his sentiment into action, and do everything he could to show his appreciation and support.
Beyond hiring several veterans on his staff – he estimates at least six full-time associates work at the dealership – Kalispell Toyota sponsors a program to provide all-expenses-paid vacations for active-duty military and their families, who come from across the country to enjoy beautiful Montana resort towns.
Ready for a Ride
As part of the Special Forces Association retreat, active-duty military service members and their families are invited on snow mobile rides in the beautiful Rocky Mountains.
The dealership partners with Montana Special Forces Association Chapter 28, which welcomes military service members to week-long retreats across the state for skiing, dog sledding, fly fishing, snow mobile rides and more.
The trips are offered at no cost to families who visit, thanks to the generosity of sponsors like Kalispell Toyota. The dealership covers the cost for bussing guests from point A to point B, along with providing rental cars at no charge to families so they can explore independently.
“These military service members tend to have very little downtime and don’t get paid a lot for what they do,” Ketter says. “So, to be able to help them relax and spend time recharging their batteries, even if it’s just for a few days, feels great.”
A Little R&R
Active-duty service members and families enjoy vistas like this on their all-expenses-paid retreats, sponsored in part by donors like Kalispell Toyota.
The retreat’s organizer says the dealership’s help makes a huge difference.
“It’s simple: We couldn’t do it without Kalispell Toyota’s help,” says Ike Slaughter, a retreat organizer and retired Special Forces colonel. “They help us tremendously in a multitude of ways. They provide transportation for hundreds of people at a cost of thousands of dollars, and they pick up the cost. It’s amazing.”
But ask Ketter, and he’ll tell you it’s anything but amazing. It’s just the right thing to do.
“This is the least we can do,” he says. “And it’s the right thing to do. As long as there are soldiers putting their lives on the line to protect us, we’ll keep doing what we can to show our appreciation.”