It’s an inspirational story — two men, competitors in business, putting money aside and donating time, energy and services for the greater good.
In Livonia it’s not uncommon to hear the familiar whir of a weed-whacker or lawn mower from Red Oak Lawn Care or Infinity Land & Landscaping. What may seem unusual is the two owners’ refusal to take payment from a handful of their customers.
“At first I protested,” said Joe Saylor, a customer who is getting lawn services every Thursday without paying a dime. “I said, ‘I didn’t call you guys to get a freebie,’ and they said, ‘No, it’s just what we do.’”
Back in January Saylor couldn’t kick a cough. He thought something was wrong, but wasn’t prepared for the word uttered by his ear, nose and throat doctor: cancer.
“It was like someone kicked me in the gut.”
Millions of people live in the U.S. with cancer. The latest statistics show that more than 1 million will be diagnosed this year, between existing and new cases more than 600,000 will likely die.
The numbers are so high, Saylor — despite his concerns — assumed he’d continue to live his life as usual. It didn’t take long for him to realize moving up and down the stairs was a challenge, the prospect of cutting his lawn was simply too big of a task. He begrudgingly called a local company.
Kyle Stansik was the first to bid the property, and when he heard about Saylor’s diagnosis he quickly refused payment. He explained that his friend, really his competitor, had started a program called “Cuts for Cancer.” Stansik, who owns Infinity Lawn & Landscaping, had signed on to help people in his community out. For Stansik, the cause was personal.
“100 percent,” said Stansik, when asked about his father. “He would be proud.”
John Stansik only lived a few weeks with cancer. His diagnosis was late, his last breath not long after. However, Stansik told 7 Action News that he’ll never forget the reaction of his employees. They made it clear they’d take care of business, he could focus on his family.
“That one little thing, that bit of help meant the world,” said Stansik. “I just want to help others, it means the world to me. If we can keep doing good and giving back to the community that’s all that matters to me.”
He’s not the only one who has a personal connection to the cause. Cody Schannault, owner of Red Oak Lawn Care, started the program because of his own personal connection. His mother beat cancer, but the disease came with a price tag. His mother was a single parent — her cancer led to big bills, eventually the family lost their home. It’s one more reason Schannualt can’t imagine charging cancer patients for his services.
“We got one, two and ended up getting up to 10 people,” said Schannault.
There is no charity, the businesses don’t receive anything back in terms of tax breaks. In fact, the only real reward for the two young business owners is the feeling they get. According to Schannault, that’s more than enough. He described showing up to a woman’s home and finding a hospital bed inside her home. She wanted a yard clean-up, but Schannault offered her one-better: free lawn care.
“She just broke down,” saidd Schannualt. “She sobbed just like that, right there. I was tearing up — just to be able to bring some sort of happiness. It means so much. It’s just like when my mom was sick, it’s so hard to find happiness when you’re going through something that horrible.”
The “Cuts for Cancer” program is only running in Livonia currently, that’s where a bulk of the two businesses do their work.
If you’d like to know more about the program, or want to support the businesses involve you can find details about the two lawn care companies by visiting them online.