A quiet Sunday morning, 11:00 am.
The middle of the California desert.
Mom and Dad Cash, enjoying a beautiful April morning ride on their Harley-Davidson motorcycles with friends stop at a gas station to refuel the bikes and themselves.
Someone snaps a picture of them – smiling, in matching denim outfits, clearly relishing their time with each other, their friends and their newly achieved status as a couple completing their 50s.
Little did they know that one of their lives would end roughly six minutes after the picture was taken. Nor could anyone realize how this particular drunk driving crash would, years later, motivate their son David Cash to launch a program to raise millions to make a difference.
It is fairly common for couples to ride together on the same motorcycle. But Charleen Cash chose to ride on her own motorcycle — a decision that saved her life.
“They each rode their own bikes, and I am so grateful,” said David, “You might picture the rowdy motorcycle type,” said David. “But my parents were actually fairly conservative. In fact, I’m told my Dad avoided riding on the Interstate, preferring to take the more scenic, less traveled routes. He actually was the one who selected the famous U.S. Route 66 for this ride.”
Approaching the group of motorcycles, an automobile driver decided to attempt to pass the group on a long, sweeping turn.
“He made a bad decision, not his first one of the day,” David said. “And he hit an oncoming SUV.”
The dominoes of tragedy started to fall.
George had just gestured for his wife to ride in front of him, so that he could follow her.
It would be his last message to his wife of 41 years.
The crash caused the SUV to careen into George at the spot his wife had exited just moments before.
George was killed instantly. The driver of the SUV would later die and others were seriously injured.
“Otherwise, it could have been my mother. If they had rode together on the same bike, we would have lost them both,” said David. “It is tragic that well-meaning people, and lots of them, are killed like this. These meaningless, senseless deaths shouldn’t happen.”
The driver who caused the crash sustained no injuries. When officers arrived, they smelled alcohol on his breath. He failed sobriety tests.
“It’s a call no one wants to receive,” David said about his mother’s difficult phone call telling him of the disastrous crash. “My family had visited my parents just months earlier and shared Christmas together. It was such a sweet time. I’m grateful we had made this trip to be together because it was our last.”
“My kids, five and nine, lost their grandfather. My mother has not remarried,” David said. “When you have someone who has an illness and you know they may not live, you can prepare. But there is no preparing for this. It’s just immediate pain and shock.”
The start of an idea
After the crash and death of his father, David was working as a missionary and minister. He partnered with a local Home Depot, who with every purchase was giving a percentage back to David’s nonprofit.
“It was a one-off idea, but I realized it was the type of partnership that could be shared with so many more,” said David, founder and CEO of Shop & Support. “What if customers were more loyal to a particular brand that supported their chosen charity? It would be good for business. It would be good for the charity. It would save lives.”
The spark was lit.
All that remained was nearly a decade of hard work, dedication and commitment to the concept that this idea could benefit all parties and help many people.
Eventually, David rallied a group of funders and corporate sponsors willing to underwrite the cost of the program and Shop & Support was launched.
“The donors love it. They are in charge,” David said. “Enrolling in Shop & Support is free. When customers shop with participating merchants in-store or online, merchants gain incremental business and give back up to 20% percent of each purchase. 100% of the donation is sent to the customer’s chosen charity on their behalf. Everybody wins.”
Since launching two years ago, Shop & Support is well on its way to help raise $250 million for charities over the next five years. This holiday season, it connected with Mothers Against Drunk Driving®.
“If there is anything we can do to make a dent for this cause, we want to do so,” he said. “This isn’t really about Shop & Support. It isn’t about me. It’s about coming together as a community to make a bigger difference.”