Whitewood Transport Honored with Montana Philanthropy Award

Towering cranes and heavy equipment — “anything big and ugly that’s hard to move” — are Whitewood Transport’s usual hauls, but the company’s owners have also volunteered their acumen to move such things as a new facility for disabled skiers from Washington to Red Lodge Mountain.

Since the mid-’90s, that’s just one of many contributions Whitewood has made to Eagle Mount, an organization that offers recreation programs for children and adults with disabilities.

Big Smiles

“You got to find those things that touch your heart and when you see the kids on that mountain, they can’t walk or talk possibly, but they can smile,” said Mike Wilson, who owns the trucking company.

On Thursday, the Montana Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals is honoring Whitewood Transport with a philanthropy award for its support of Eagle Mount and other community organizations. The association presents annual awards to the top community fundraisers in Billings.

“It’s people who are volunteering their time, their treasures and their talents in a particular area with the intention of helping their neighbors and friends, and adding to the value of their community,” said John Eastman, president of the association.

Other Honorees

Along with Whitewood Transport, this year’s honorees include Jim Gainan of Gainan’s Flowers and Garden Center, Kim Kaiser of RiverStone Health Foundation, and Fred and Laurie Gunville.

For the awards, the Association of Fundraising Professionals solicits nominations from nonprofits and charitable organizations. The nominees are then judged on the basis of the length, nature and impact of their community service.

Whitewood Transport was nominated for its award by both Eagle Mount and Special K Ranch, a working ranch that houses adults with developmental disabilities.

“They’re kind of low-key in the community, and I just thought they needed a little recognition for what they do,” said Jonathan Peart, executive director of Eagle Mount.

Back in 2005, Wilson was navigating an icy path at Red Lodge Mountain Resort to meet a wheelchair-bound skier coming off an Eagle Mount bus. That’s when he decided the organization needed its own facility at the base of the mountain, and soon he enlisted a team of businesses to make it happen. Beall Trailers Inc. donated a small building that had been used as a temporary office at a job site in Washington. ConocoPhillips donated money for materials to fix up the building. Red Lodge Mountain Resort donated space for the building. And Whitewood Transport did the hauling.

“He’s one of those guys that when he commits himself to a project you can count on him and he gets the job done,” Peart said. Wilson served on Eagle Mount’s board of directors for many years. Since 2001, the trucking company has donated more than $56,000 to Eagle Mount, and it also makes regular donations to numerous other Billings nonprofits.

“We try to do things right, with our employees and our company, and you don’t do it to get recognition like this, but it feels pretty good when you do”. The recession has caused a drop in business over the last year for Whitewood, a national company that hauls about 10,000 loads of freight a year. But Wilson said their commitment to philanthropy remains strong. “It’s about who you are and what you stand for and what your mission is,” Wilson said. “I think if you have all that as part of your foundation, that it works its way through everything that you do.

Story courtesy of Billings Gazette