MONROE, La. (KTVE/KARD) — The Jim Taylor Auto Group continued an annual tradition on Thursday, April 7, 2022. It held the 8th Annual Jim Taylor Memorial Sales Event Donation, which honors Jim Taylor Auto Group Co-owner Tanya Pesek’s late father, Jim Taylor, who died in 2015.

Jim Taylor Auto Group Co-owner Don Robertson joined Pesek to present two donation checks. The Food Bank of Northeast Louisiana and the John Clarke Perry Foundation both received $16,000 checks to support their organizations.

“He used to always tell me he didn’t know why anybody would want to live anywhere else than Northeast Louisiana,” Pesek said about her father. “It’s an honor to be able to be a business owner. We rely on community support both as our customers and our employees. We feel really strongly about making this a better place for people and their families.”

According to the Jim Taylor Auto Group, in previous years the Memorial Sales Event Donation provided more than $152,000 to community organizations. They said it’s important to highlight local groups, organizations, and foundations to inspire people to get involved with charitable groups within their community.

“Mr. Jim Taylor, he really cared about people,” Robertson said. “He was really well known for helping people as friends and as an employer. He had employees that worked for him for many, many years. He cared about people in a truly heartfelt way.”

According to Robertson, the Jim Taylor Auto group felt an obligation to continue Taylor’s legacy.

“We feel very good about doing this and to continue to do it in the future years,” Robertson said.

This is the first time both the Food Bank of Northeast Louisiana and the John Clarke Perry Foundation have received donations from the Memorial Sales Event. According to Pesek, healthy communities are important, and businesses play a part in making communities healthy.

“Anything that we can do to make life better for the people who live in our area is good for us and it’s good for everybody in the area,” Pesek said. According to Robertson, there’s never enough to go around for organizations that have so much need.

“We just want to do our part to make them viable organizations,” Robertson said.

Each year the Jim Taylor Auto group considers several organizations to receive donations. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, food scarcity has become a big problem, according to Pesek. So, the Jim Taylor Auto Group chose the Food Bank of Northeast Louisiana to receive a donation.

“It’s really an honor to be picked out of all of the great non-profits in our area,” said Jean Toth, Food Bank of Northeast Louisiana Director. “We were just thrilled when we found out that we were one of the recipients.”

Every spring and summer the Food Bank of Northeast Louisiana’s sees its donations drop off, according to Toth.

“So, the timing of this is really perfect for us,” Toth said. “We have a lot of food distributions coming up in the next few months. So, there’s going to be thousands and thousands of families that are helped.”

Toth thanked the Jim Taylor Auto Group for everything they do for the community.

Because the Jim Taylor Auto Group and Pesek give back in honor of her father, “It’s just really a touching event to be part of,” Toth said.  

According to Pesek, the John Clarke Perry Foundation was chosen because of their inspiring story.

“How they took the most heartbreaking thing that ever happened to them and used it to bless so many other people,” Pesek said. “It was just such a good fit to me.”

The loss of her father was another reason the Jim Taylor Auto Group chose the John Clarke Perry Foundation as a recipient.

“The first anniversary of my dad’s death was coming up and we were all still heartbroken and so we wanted to take that energy and do something positive with it,” Pesek said about how the Memorial Sales Event started.

Jonathan Perry and his wife Holley are the founders of the John Clarke Perry Foundation. The John Clarke Perry Foundation was created in 2015 after the Perrys lost their son John Clarke. John Clarke was born with his twin sister Ella, and after living for six months, he was eventually diagnosed with a severe brain bleed.

“It’s called abnormal vessel malformation,” Perry said. “There was a cluster of vessels in his brain and the older he got they just couldn’t handle the pressure anymore.”

According to Perry, doctors explained they had never seen a bleed that bad in an adult, much less a child and still be alive. Doctors performed two surgeries on John Clarke, but he succumbed to his ailments.

“They contacted us about end-of-life decisions and one of the things they got to, and honestly I wasn’t even thinking about it, was organ donations,” Perry said. “And my wife said immediately, ‘Absolutely, I want to do an organ donation’.”

According to the foundation’s website, John Clarke was able to help save two lives.

“It was all part of God’s plan,” Perry said. “There’s been so many miracles along the way of us helping people. It’s been an incredible gift. I used to tell people, who always said it’s such a tragic story, but that does a disservice to our son, because if you look at the people he’s touched and people he’s helped, he’s a hero.”

The John Clarke Perry Foundation was created to support families who were dealing with the loss and effects from losing a child. The foundation seeks to help children that need life changing medical treatment. It focuses on helping hospitalized children, whether through organ donation, or any other ailment such as cancer.

“The amount of money that we were given today is incredible,” Perry said. “When we started this, it was kind of just however we can help. The first couple people we helped, we’d give them $500 because that’s the most we could help.”

According to Perry, a lot of people visit their website to ask for assistance, but he explained they’ve slowly grown their donation amount to $2,000. The John Clarke Perry Foundation’s ultimate goal is to one day be able to pay someone’s entire hospital bill.

“Not only the hospital bill, but all the other ordinary bills grow,” Perry said. “Most of the time parents can’t work because they’re at the hospital worried about their children. We’re there to help take some of that stress off.”

At the presentation, Perry and the Jim Taylor Auto Group announced that the month of April is recognized as National Donate Life Month. Before the presentation, Perry attended an event at St. Francis Medical Center which highlighted people known as ‘heroes’ who donated their organs. The Jim Taylor Auto Group had a place for people to sign up to become organ donors.

“We raised the donate life flag. So, if you ever drive by the hospital and you see a donate life flag waving outside of April, it means somebody’s passed away. They raise it every time someone passes away and they donate their organs,” Perry said. “To be able to receive that money during the month of April is even more special.”

To get donate, contact or get involved with the John Clarke Perry Foundation visit their website or Facebook page. You can even sign up to become an organ donor at their website.

“If you’re not an organ donor, that’s something you need to have a talk with your family with,” Perry said. “There’s a lot of stigmas around it and that’s one of the things that we try to help people with, is understanding what organ donation is.”

According to Perry, when you get to the point of possibly being a donor, it gives you a chance to save a life and become a hero to someone that desperately needs one.

“We just want to thank the community for supporting us through the years,” Pesek said. “We’re happy to be located in Richland Parish, Lincoln Parish and Ouachita Parish, and we want to support everybody in Northeast Louisiana to the best of our ability.”