Our guest on this Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast is Blair Cornell. Blair is a financial advisor with UBS Financial Services and founder of JoyRide.org, a not for profit whose mission is to provide kids with special needs an opportunity to ride in incredibly special vehicles. Think Ferrari, or Bugatti. Blair and his wife Kat have four children, including 9 year old Carter, who has Dandy Walker Syndrome. We’ll hear the Cornell family story and more on this Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast.
Find out about JoyRide at: https://joyridecars.org
Watch the Joy Ride Video: https://youtu.be/pXEAT84JmNU
Learn more about Dandy Walker Alliance – http://dandy-walker.org
Dad to Dad 126 Blair Cornell – Father of Four Including A Son With Dandy Walker Syndrome – JoyRide Car Club For Kids
[00:00:00] Blair Cornell: Carter has had a way of educating all of us. People think we’re teaching Carter all the time and we are to a degree, but he’s always teaching us something and he’s teaching us to have patience and he’s teaching us to have a soft heart. And he’s teaching us to probably walk this world with a little bit more of an open mindset to know that there are many that are struggling.
And if we can lend a helping hand. It makes the world go round a lot better.
Tom Couch: That’s our guests this week, Blair Cornell. Blair is a financial advisor and founder of Joy Ride. Whose mission is to provide car rides for kids with special needs and incredibly special vehicles think Ferrari or Bugatti Blair, and his wife Kat have four children, including nine year old Carter who has dandy Walker syndrome.
We’ll hear the Cornell family story and more. On this Special Fathers Network, Dad to Dad [00:01:00] podcast. Here’s your host, David Hirsch.
David Hirsch: Hi, and thanks for listening to this Special Fathers Network data dad podcast. I’d also like to offer my heartfelt thanks to the following donors who supported the 21 CD Ironman campaign who each contributed a thousand dollars or more to help keep our programs free to all concerned in alphabetical order, they are Len Batterson, Fond Box Dollar, Greg Brown, The Canal Financial Group, Kim Dutcheswa, Chaz Edelstein, Chris and Christie Kazian, Bob Musikowsy, the Peloton Dads Facebook group, Dick Req, Kevin Richardson, and Tom white.
Thanks for your generous support.
Tom Couch: The Special Fathers Network is a Dad to Dad mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs through our personalized matching process. New fathers with special needs children connect with mentor fathers in a similar situation. It’s a great way for dads to support dads to find out more, go to [00:02:00] 21stcenturydads.org.
David Hirsch: And if you’re a dad looking for help or would like to offer help, we’d be honored to have you join our closed Facebook group. Please go to facebook.com groups and search Dad to Dad.
Tom Couch: And now let’s listen in on this conversation between Blair Cornell and David Hirsch.
David Hirsch: I’m thrilled to be talking today with Blair Cornell of Centerville, Ohio, who is a father of four, a fellow financial advisor at UBS and founder of joyride, a not-for-profit whose tagline is kids cars and smiles.
Blair, thank you for taking the time to do a podcast interview for the Special Fathers Network.
Blair Cornell: Well, thanks for having me, David. It’s a pleasure to be here.
David Hirsch: My wife cat had been married for 14 years and of the proud parents of four children, Kaitlin 11. Six year old twins, Brady and Davis, and Carter nine, who has dandy Walker syndrome, a brain malfunction caused by hydrocephalus.
Let’s start with some background. Where did you grow up? Tell me something about your family.
[00:03:00] Blair Cornell: Well, David, I grew up in, uh, in Dayton, Ohio, uh, which is where I live today since Centerville’s a suburb of Dayton. Uh, so I couldn’t get out of the booming metropolis of Dayton. It trapped me and I stayed in Ohio for college.
I went to Ohio university over in Athens. This is my, my home base where I’ve known my whole life, my wife, Kat and I met in college. She’s from up near Cleveland and a small suburb called Medina. And so that’s where the two of us met in college and I recruited her back to Dayton. As I’m in a family business here, uh, that she was very supportive of joining me for.
David Hirsch: And as I remember in a prior conversation, you’re the middle of three children when you were growing up.
Blair Cornell: I am. And as I’m commonly referred to as the middle child and have the middle child syndrome, uh, never was a number one on either mom or dad’s list. Uh, I was just always getting pushed and pulled in the middle.
David Hirsch: So, uh, if I had to guess you probably didn’t have to share a bedroom though.
Blair Cornell: No, I did have my own bedroom and you’re right. I was, I got, I was fortunate to have my own room. Yeah.
David Hirsch: I was only [00:04:00] guessing that because you have two sisters.
Blair Cornell: I have an older brother and a younger sister. Yeah. Yeah.
David Hirsch: So, um, you mentioned you joined a family business, so, um, your dad’s been in the business for how long?
Blair Cornell: My dad started in the finance business in 1973, uh, financial services business over in Indianapolis. And then moved to Dayton in 1980, uh, where he partnered with his cousin in 1980, who, uh, still teammates and partners today. So my dad has been in the business now for 47 years and not only been a great mentor, but one of my very best friends that I owe a lot to, and teaching me a lot about, about our business.
David Hirsch: That’s fabulous. So I’m sort of curious now. In addition to your dad being a business partner. Um, how would you describe your relationship with your dad?
Blair Cornell: Oh, it’s exactly, you know, my dad is a, is a very close friend. Uh, one of my best friends and we talk about everything together. [00:05:00] Probably one of my favorite things that we do is we’re very open with each other.
We’re we’re honest and we’re not afraid to have some good old fashioned disagreements. And I think that’s, what’s made our bond even stronger over the years on a personal side. What, probably one of my favorite thing is that my dad and I have done is every year, uh, we lay out the whole calendar and we have a Cornell cup golf match that we.
Compete against all summer long. And it’s just a way to know. Every week we get together, we play golf and we share stories and we talk and we just, we invest more and more time in each other’s lives, but it’s a fun grudge match and rivalry that we have and a good way for us to get together and share good stories.
David Hirsch: That’s interesting. So is he giving you strokes or are you giving him strokes?
Blair Cornell: I do give him a couple strokes. Although, uh, as I’ve had kids, uh, my handicap has come up and as he’s had more time, his has come down. So the gap is narrowing.
David Hirsch: Sounds like a great family [00:06:00] tradition that you guys have created.
Blair Cornell: It really is.
David Hirsch: So as far as takeaways are concerned, is there some lesson or lessons that you’ve learned from your dad that, uh, you know, sort of embody your relationship?
Blair Cornell: My dad has been very inspiring and influential in my life. You know, he’s been a role model for me. And probably the number one takeaway that I’ve seen is how he has treated my mom and treated my two siblings and me.
And he has been an excellent father. But even in a better husband and I, and I think that’s admirable to see how he treats my mom and they have such a great relationship. My mom’s been through her fair share of ups and downs through medical issues and he stuck by her the entire way. And that’s just been inspiring to me as a younger man.
And then what I’ve had to deal with with my son, which we’ll get to later and how he’s stood by her and has really been a great role model for me to see how I need to stand by my wife and my son and my [00:07:00] family to make sure I. Um, that, uh, the leader of the family, like he’s always been for us.
David Hirsch: That’s fabulous.
I’ve heard, adopted and said that one of the most important things a man can do for his children is love their mother. Right. And it sounds like that’s exactly what you were just describing with your dad and your mom.
Blair Cornell: Yeah. He really has. He’s always chosen her first, which is, uh, sometimes hard to think about.
Um, but it’s the, it’s the right path and, and kids, I think over time in Meyer that.
David Hirsch: So let’s switch gears and talk about special needs first on a personal level. And then, uh, beyond curious to know, how did the dandy Walker syndrome diagnosis come about?
Blair Cornell: So dandy Walker syndrome that Carter was diagnosed. I can remember the day it was August 23rd, 2010. Uh, cat and I [00:08:00] were driving in for our 20 week ultrasound and we’d already had Kaitlin a little girl.
And so this was going to be our second child. And with Caitlin, we didn’t, uh, we didn’t find out if we were having a boy or girl, we were surprised, but with Carter, we were going to be finding out our cat really wanted to, but we went in for that 20 week ultrasound. Not only did we find out we were having a boy, we found out everything about.
Carter and that diagnosis of dandy Walker. And I’ve heard a couple of different statistics, one in 30,000 or one in 50,000, but in either case it’s a, it’s a very rare brain abnormality that’s caused by form of hydrocephalus, which has fluid around your brain. And while Carter was in utero, there’s nothing that can be done until he’s born because that fluid has a pocket of pressure.
That’s really. Unfortunately causing the brain not to grow and expand as well as it should have, but once he’s born, then they, they placed a shunt in his head. And if you think of a shunt as like a straw that goes into, [00:09:00] into the brain under it’s all underneath the skin and kind of runs a tube down all the way down into the stomach and kind of helps to basically be a bypass and helps to relieve that pressure.
And then over time, his brain can now. Begin to try to grow and develop. But unfortunately a lot of the damage had been done that they can’t operate on before.
David Hirsch: So did they try to have, uh, an early birth then? Just because of
Blair Cornell: that or not? You know, that’s a great question. Um, they, they don’t, they wanted him to go full term because they didn’t want him to be, uh, early term in any way, because that could cause other issues.
So he was full term, which was very exciting. Even though that was leaving him inside for a couple of weeks longer, but that was going to potentially help to prevent less problems from becoming an issue as well. Okay.
David Hirsch: I was just sort of curious because it’s, um, uh, almost like a preview. If you get that diagnosis before birth, there might be, or might not [00:10:00] be some.
No choices to make, and I’m not talking about life choices. I’m just talking about from a medical standpoint, you know, this path or that path. So thanks for being so transparent.
Blair Cornell: Yeah.
David Hirsch: So put yourself back and that point in time, nine years ago, uh, what were some of the fears that you and Kat were reflecting on at that time?
Blair Cornell: Well, you know, that was a time of my life that, um, I would say it was probably the hardest moment in my life. Um, and that’s really where we hit rock bottom. But as a couple, we became tighter and tighter and probably became stronger than ever because we had no choice. You know, that was a moment in our lives where we really had two choices.
One, we could have run away from it and tried to hide. Or we could really embrace it and become, uh, open and very transparent with others and become leaders in our community that this [00:11:00] was something we were going to embrace. We were viewing it as, this was a gift that we were given and we were chosen to have Carter and we were going to do everything we could to take that opportunity and run with it.
David Hirsch: fabulous. I’m sort of curious to know, was there some advice you got early on that helped you sort of process all this and get on the right path?
Blair Cornell: Well, we had, we had a great team of people. So from the moment that we found out what was going on with Carter, uh, we referred to Cincinnati children’s hospital.
Uh, we live in Dayton, Dayton children’s as an excellent hospital, but for what we were going to need, they weren’t capable at the time. I think they now are, but at the time they weren’t. So we went to Cincinnati, which is a fabulous hospital. And we went in and we had a full day of tests and studies done, and we sat down at the end of that day.
Uh, with a whole bout 12 different doctors and nurses that we’d met with that day, it was around a boardroom setting and had gone through basically from [00:12:00] head to toe exactly what they had seen. And that was a moment that was a very, very difficult moment because you’re. You’re trying to look at everything that could be going wrong and things that could be right, and you’re just speculating.
But that team came alongside us and really helped us from that, from that moment forward until Carter was born and it’s still the same team we operate with today. But I think what, what helped us to have that comfort, uh, was not only having that team in place, but it was having a very good family network around us.
And a lot of close friends and we were very strong in our faith and knew that this was going to be an opportunity for us to take this as a challenge and really make that.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, what a great testimony, what I heard you say, maybe not in the same order is that, uh, it was your faith, your family, and your friends that were there to support you as well.
And, uh, without one or all of those, [00:13:00] you know, it’d be really difficult to, uh, Shoulder, some applies adversities. So that’s fabulous.
Blair Cornell: Absolutely. Yeah. Thank you.
David Hirsch: So were there some important decisions along the way that you’ve had to make as it relates to, uh, what to do or what was in Carter’s best
Blair Cornell: interest?
Yeah, there’s been a lot of decisions. Uh, you know, from the moment he was born. We had to make decisions, but a lot of those decisions were being made by the physicians on what they could see and where they felt like we really had the best chance for success. Um, I remember them doing hearing tests and vision tests, and you know, when they’re a newborn, it’s difficult, but they have different ways they can get readouts to see.
And, uh, we were just checking things off saying, okay, that’s not a problem. That’s not a problem. Or this is something we need to pay attention to. Um, but over time, As he continued to progress, we had to keep making more and more decisions, but, but fortunately Kat was able to be home with him. I was working and running a business and she was [00:14:00] staying home with him and really managing his care.
And she is extremely competent and capable and became even more competent and capable at handling his care and overseeing all of his care. And a lot of that really came in. With different physical therapy and occupational therapy and speech therapy. And then over time, as he’s had to have different surgeries, we’ve had to make decisions based on what we thought would be best for his current progress and where we thought he would be down the road.
David Hirsch: Well thank you for sharing and not to focus on the negative, but I’m wondering if there have been some challenges along the way that you’ve encountered.
Blair Cornell: Oh, there’s been, it’s a roller coaster ride. Uh, as we all know, life is a rollercoaster ride for everybody. So it’s not just us. I joke with people all the time and say, um, you know, when we had Carter, we got on the rollercoaster, but there was no getting off.
And so we’re on this ride and this journey together. And, uh, fortunately we’ve had a lot more ups than we have downs, but we’ve certainly had our fair share of downs. I would say probably the one that sticks [00:15:00] out the most. Was when Carter was, um, I guess he would have been about five years old, almost six.
He had a big hip surgery. Uh, Carter was in a wheelchair and he was starting to walk with a Walker and the orthopedic surgeons could see, he was really gonna need to have hip surgery. Eventually he was going to have to have back surgery. Uh, and he was also had, had already had, and would have more.
Surgeries on his feet. So lots of, uh, lots of areas to get him to continue walking and progressing. When he went in for that hip surgery, we didn’t realize it at the time, but he had walking pneumonia. Yeah. And it was undetected. And so walking pneumonia is something that’s very hard to detect, but he came out of the surgery, everything went well, but he now had pneumonia and was flat on his back and couldn’t get up because he had just had hip surgery, which was a problem.
Anybody who’s had pneumonia or you know, anything about it, you know, you need to be up and moving and coughing. Right. To get that fluid [00:16:00] out and he wasn’t able to do that. So that progressively got worse and worse and really sent us into a little bit of a tail spin. And we ended up being in the hospital for almost two months homework.
And, um, later we found out that many of the doctors were huddling on the side. Not sure if he was going to pull through that or not, because it was getting to become such a problem. Fortunately, that was not the case. Uh, we were able to have a very good turnaround and Carter came home. And since then he has been on an upward trajectory, not only moving from a wheelchair to a Walker, but now he takes a lot of unassisted steps and really can walk to, and from places holding your hand far better than I ever, ever would have expected.
In fact, I believe that’s how we connected was you saw the post I put on LinkedIn of him walking. On a bike path. And he was out walking in front of our family, which was somewhat symbolic that he was leading our family on that walk that morning, which was very moving.
David Hirsch: Yeah, that was very moving. And, uh, it was a friend that shared it [00:17:00] with me, but, uh, that was my first encounter with you.
Blair Cornell: Yeah, that’s correct. That’s right.
David Hirsch: So very inspiring. So thanks for sharing. So I’m sort of curious to know what impact Carter situations had on his siblings, uh, your marriage or the rest of your family for that matter.
Blair Cornell: That’s a very good question. And Carter has impacted and influenced us all Carter. Has had a way of educating all of us.
People think we’re teaching Carter all the time and we are to a degree, but he’s always teaching us something and he’s teaching us to have patients and he’s teaching us to have a soft heart. And he’s teaching us to probably walk this world with a little bit more of an open mindset to know that there are many that are struggling.
And if we can lend a helping hand, it makes the world go round a lot better. And I think Carter, his siblings, which, um, he has an older sister and two younger brothers will be far better people in this world as they [00:18:00] grow up just like Kat and I will be because of the influence that Carter’s had on our lives.
David Hirsch: Yeah, that’s fabulous. Um, it’s just so refreshing to hear that. So again, thanks for sharing. I’m wondering if there’s any supporting organizations beyond those that you’ve mentioned, including the Cincinnati children’s hospital, all the. Private therapist you’ve had with occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy.
Have there been any other organizations that, uh, you, your family or Carter’s benefited
Blair Cornell: from Carter has benefited, um, from just having involvement in other organizations, um, where he’s been able to be part of a community. And I think that’s what gives him motivation is when he can. Really being engaged and around others, which is why you thrive so much at school being in a classroom and having the opportunity to engage with others.
Um, so there’s been a lot of different organizations that he’s been able to be part of. I’ll tell you one that comes to [00:19:00] mind. That’s a very neat concept that I’m sure it’s in a lot of cities, there’s a baseball field that, that was converted to a special needs field and it has a rubber floor, um, rather than a dirt.
Or grass, and it’s basically built for wheelchairs and walkers, so they can go and play baseball and they can run the bases or walk the basis or wheel the basis, like any of us could and have that feeling of being a part of something. So there’s been a lot of different organizations like that, that Carter’s had the good fortune to be part of that people don’t realize how meaningful that is to these kids.
Until they see their faces really light up. I think
David Hirsch: that’s fabulous. So he enjoys sports then?
Blair Cornell: Yeah, he does. Yeah. He, his favorite thing to do right now is to swim. He does a swim lessons with a lady that’s just fabulous with him and he is just all about being in the water.
David Hirsch: So, uh, you may or may not be aware of this.
[00:20:00] There are two dads in the network that have been involved with scuba therapy. Taking people with disability, scuba diving, it might be a little bit premature since he’s only nine, but, uh, it’s another reminder that never say never.
Blair Cornell: Oh yeah.
David Hirsch: It’s amazing what some people ever do. And I was so inspired by this.
One of them is called dive heart.org. It’s been around for about 20 years and I was so inspired. I love to scuba dive by the way, uh, that one of my daughters and I were. Train, Diveheart trained to be buddy divers. So you go for a week. You’re being trained to work with, at least in our training with three different groups of people, those that are paraplegics.
So usually don’t have any use with our lower limbs or legs, uh, quadriplegics, which is like an inconceivable thing that somebody who’s got quadriplegia would go scuba diving and then blind people. And the most impactful thing [00:21:00] was. W when you were role-playing. So if you and I were doing this together, okay.
It’s your turn Blair to be the blind person. So they put the mask on and, you know, put something in it. So you can’t see, and then I’ve got to instruct you a person that can’t see, you know, how to go from point a to point B, how to put your equipment on and then actually go underwater and communicate, um, when somebody has, you know, Not have use of one of their senses, uh, either the mobility or their side in this case.
So it’s very profound anyway, to something, to, you know, plant a seed and see if it germinates, uh, years down the road. If it particularly if he loves it.
Blair Cornell: Oh, that’s fantastic. I’ll have to check that out. That’s a, that would be quite the thrill.
David Hirsch: Something to look forward to potentially.
Blair Cornell: Yeah. So
David Hirsch: let’s switch gears and talk about, uh, uh, some of the advocacy that you’ve been doing, um, the last few years.
And, uh, one of the things that I was really inspired by when I learned about your story is this not-for-profit that you helped create [00:22:00] called joyride. And I made reference to it earlier in the introduction that the tagline is kids, cars and smiles. I’m sort of curious to know what the backstory is on that and how that all came about.
Blair Cornell: Well, I’m glad you asked. Um, if my wife were here with me, she’d be saying, Oh my goodness, we’re going to hear about joy, right. Again, because it’s the common joke in our family. That’s all I talk about. Uh, cause it is a passion of mine. Cars have always been a hobby and a, this has become a big passion. So, uh, as I ever since I was a kid I’ve loved cars and it’s always been something I’ve enjoyed to do for myself.
Uh, but we’re really came about was in 2016, I was driving home from work. I walked in the house and cat looked at me and said, you’ve got to help me. And I said, what’s going on? And she said, Carter is beside himself. And I said, well, well, how can I help? And she said, you got to try to calm him down. And so I walked over, he was sitting at the kitchen table, watching some videos on his iPad and I said, Carter, what’s going on?
And he was just beside himself and I [00:23:00] couldn’t get him to calm down. I couldn’t get him back on track. So I looked at him and I said, Carter, do you want to go for a ride? And daddy’s convertible. And I had a convertible that we had had some fun with and he looked up at me, David, like a light switch was flipped and.
He looked right at me and said, let’s go. And I said, all right. So I picked him up and I carried him out to the garage and I still can feel to this day, his little chin bouncing along on my shoulder, uh, this little six year old guy that I was just carrying along out to the car. And I strapped him in and we must have driven around that night for almost an hour.
And as I watched his face, just light up as the wind was blowing through his hair and we were listening to music, all of his pain and all of his frustrations were just gone. And had really not only transformed him, but it transformed me that night to realize there’s something to this, you know, we all have triggers in our lives when we’re frustrated or mad or upset, or [00:24:00] just kind of in a little bit of a funk, you know, that can kind of get us back on track, whether that’s music or cars.
And for Carter and I, we love cars. That’s the one thing we love to do more than anything is go for a car ride. And so I started playing with this and kind of do a little more work with it and realized I’ve got to make this happen. I got to do something with this because there’s so many other kids out there that need this in their life.
I’ve confident. So all a all fall, I talked about it with, with Kat and I talked about it with lots of friends and family and. By the end of 2016, we had created our nonprofit called Joy Ride and it was going to be a car club exclusively for kids with special needs. And quite simply, we’re just taking kids for rides to create joy in their lives.
Uh, we’re not doing research or funding or anything. It’s just a simple task of finding some amazing cars. And putting these kids in these cars to be able to have joy in their lives to kind of forget about the world and some of their frustrations for, for the day. And so a Joy [00:25:00] Ride, we’ve had five events.
We launched it in 2016. The first event got underway in 2017. And then we had two events in 18 and two in 19. Unfortunately we couldn’t have any this year, everything going on, but at a dually right event, kids will come in at nine o’clock on a Saturday morning. They’ll get to see some amazing cars. From nine to 10 and at 10 o’clock is when we have the national Anthem and we get start the engines.
And we have a track that we lay out in an enclosed parking area where each kid gets to go for a ride in the car, typically that they get to choose. And it’s maybe a 10 to 12 minute ride and some amazing cars from a really, really amazing group of people that are willing to bring them. So
David Hirsch: just so our listeners have a better idea of what you’re referring to.
When you say amazing cars, just to give me a sample or a taste test of what you’ve been able to do to inspire some of your friends with some of these, uh, high end vehicles.
Blair Cornell: So what I’ll say about cars before I talk about what we have to do, all right. [00:26:00] Everybody’s car is important to them. I don’t care if it’s really expensive or not, or it’s old or it’s new is your car.
And so it’s your baby and it’s your toy. It’s your, it’s what you brings joy to your life. So not one car is better than the other. When I thought about Joy Ride, I wanted to try to make it as unique of an experience as I possibly could. So I wanted to have cars that you didn’t typically see on the road every day.
So when they came to Joy Ride, it was their opportunity to see Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s, and McLaren’s, and Maserati’s, and these are cars, at least in Dayton, Ohio, that just aren’t rolling around all the time. And when they come to this event, they get to see these cars and they’re really, really rare.
And they’re very unique. And they really create a wow moment, not only for the kids, but for their parents. And a lot of the siblings that come to they’re jealous that they want to jump in the car as well.
David Hirsch: That’s fabulous. And, uh, how is it that you, um, attract the car owners to participate?
Blair Cornell: When I first started with this idea, [00:27:00] that was the question everybody would say is, well, that’s a great idea, but where are you going to find those cars?
They’re not in Dayton? And I said, Oh yeah, they are. I just got to go find them. So for the first summer I spent a lot of time going to different car shows and I would go around and quite frankly, just walk up and handpick people, tell them the story and share the vision. And most guys and gals would say I’m in.
So I recruited a dozen cars for the first event. We had a really, really great lineup of Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s and a couple of cool Vipers and everything else. And, but I’ll tell you at our events, I’m not sure who’s having more fun. Everybody thinks the kids are having the most fun, but I see some of these drivers and they are just having a ball, uh, driving their cars around and, and the volunteers clapping form and tear, and two are having a blast.
So I’m not sure if it’s a tie. I think everybody’s having a pretty good time.
David Hirsch: Yeah, well, that’s a very inspiring and, uh, you know, if you do have a super nice car, whether it’s a new car or maybe it’s a [00:28:00] vintage car, right. Wherever, sort of in the process for years of buying and fixing up a like 66 convertible Mustangs, and you don’t see those every day, at least not in our neck of the woods.
And we had a lot of fun with those. And whether it’s something more modest in price or something more exotic, like you were referring to, you know, people that have those cars, um, are not like. Coveting them and like keeping them in their garage. Nobody can see them, you know, they’d like to share those experiences.
And I think you really tapped into something.
Blair Cornell: I do too. Thank you, David. It’s it’s it’s been a lot of fun and you’re exactly right. These car owners are extremely generous, not only with their time, but they want to share. And the car community is a great community. They are very giving people and they love to talk about their car and share their car and experience their car.
So you’re exactly right.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, I love it. Um, so do you have a vision for what joyride might become, you know, it’s there in your community there in Dayton? Um, have you thought about, uh, trying to expand this, uh, throughout [00:29:00] Ohio or beyond?
Blair Cornell: So if he asked me I always have a vision, uh that’s uh, you know, pretty far and wide, if you ask Kat, she gets nervous when I answered this question.
So I’m always a glass half full and an optimist and a little bit of a dreamer, but Joy Ride. For my vision last year was to get it into another city. And we took it to Cincinnati, which is a nearby city. So that was somewhat an easy test for us because I had some connections there. It wasn’t too far and it worked and it was our best event, in my opinion, yet it was our biggest, that was our best.
We had 30 cars. It was an amazing venue. It just rocked. It was a, really a really a great day. So when I do that, it gets me inspired to see where else can we go? And with me being a young father of four kids, With a business, you know, this is something I do on the side. So I think I could take it into another two or three cities that are neighboring Columbus, maybe Indianapolis, um, different areas that are [00:30:00] nearby, but in order to really get it to go where I would like it to go, where I think it could go, it really is going to take the right people coming alongside and really a team of people that helped me to really launch it.
Cause I would love to see it in every city, across the country. Because there’s kids out there that need this and they want this. And I just don’t know how to do it all by myself, unless I have that team of people that come alongside me. And as you know, with any nonprofit funding tends to be the root of everything.
And if we can secure funding over time, that’ll open up more doors and opportunities for us to keep expanding.
David Hirsch: So I’m sort of curious to know, um, if somebody wants to get involved from a family, with a child or a car owner or a volunteer, is there a process for doing that?
Blair Cornell: It’s very easy. Thank you for [00:31:00] asking me. You go to our website, joyridecars.org. Joyridecars.org and right on the website. There’s a section, uh, just towards the top.
You scroll down a little bit, it says get involved and there’s three ways you get involved. You can become a member. The kids are the members. There’s no cost to become a member. Once you’re a member, you’re a member, uh, for life basically. Um, Joy Rides for kids is ages three to 22. Cause we have to have some parameters, but once kids turn 23, we don’t say goodbye.
We have other opportunities for them to still stay involved. You can bring your car, any car, uh, that you think would fit. If you fill out the form and we’ll let you know if it’s a good fit or not, for what these kids are looking for. It’s not us. It’s what the kids are asking for. And then lastly is, if you’re saying, Hey, I don’t have a child like this that would benefit, or I don’t have a car.
You can simply donate your time by clicking the donate my time button. So it’s very easy to go on the website and see all that. Or you can just solve, follow us on social media. [00:32:00] Typically enJoy Ride cars as where you can find us.
David Hirsch: Excellent. So, um, now I’m thinking about advice and I’m wondering if there’s any important takeaways that come to mind advice that you might provide about raising a child with differences,
Blair Cornell: you know, and I like how you said that.
Cause I, I tend to use the word differing abilities and you said differences. And I think that’s well said we all have differing abilities. So the advice that I would offer would be to never lose hope and never give up. Um, you know, this is the forever changing world. Medicine is getting better all the time therapies are continuing to advance.
Um, but I think the best way. You can do that is just continually try to keep pushing forward and making it better.
David Hirsch: That’s fabulous. So I’m sort of curious to know why is it that you’ve agreed to be a mentor father as part of the Special Fathers Network?
Blair Cornell: You know, I think [00:33:00] when people, when I look at who’s mentored me, my own father, Don Solon, Yeah, they’ve left a lasting imprint on my life and they’ve helped to shape me and I could never repay them for that.
And I’ll tell you a story and I think that’s the easiest way I can articulate what I want to be able to pay forward is when I was first learning to play golf, my dad and I play golf all the time. As I mentioned, and. My dad and I love to go out and play golf together. And I was a little boy. He took me out for the first time and he teed off.
And then I would tee off where his ball was out in the fairway. And then I would play in from there. But the first time we were playing my ball, went into the sand trap on one of the holes and I didn’t know what to do. And I looked at him confused as a little kid would, would, as you can imagine. And he said, Blair, here’s how you’re going to hit this shot.
You’re going to stand like this. You’re going to hold the club like this. And you’re going to follow through like this. Sounded pretty easy. And I said, okay, here I go. And then he kind of tapped me. And he said [00:34:00] that the most important thing you have to remember about being in the sand trap is when you leave that sand trap, you leave it looking better than when you walked in and the way you found it.
And I didn’t understand that as a five or six year old at the time. But I understand it loud and clear now. And that is how my dad has lived. His life is he has looked at this world as an opportunity in people’s lives. That’s an opportunity to find a way to leave them looking better than the way that he found them by mentoring them, by helping them.
And that has given me a lasting imprint in my life that I’ll never forget. And I can pay that forward through other people that may be going through a similar challenge. I
David Hirsch: love that story and the imagery that comes to mind. Thank you so much for sharing. Let’s give a shout out a special shout out to, um, Tony Lumen of Fidelity, charitable and coincidentally Special Fathers Network podcast Dad [00:35:00] literally number one for helping connect us.
He was the one that turned me on to your, uh, your video.
Blair Cornell: That’s right. I do remember that. Yes, sir. That’s right.
David Hirsch: Is there anything else you’d like to say before we wrap up?
Blair Cornell: I think this has just been great. I really appreciate the opportunity for you to ask about my life. Um, and I, I appreciate that. And to be able to share with how my life has opened up an opportunity to create Joy Ride and how we at joyride are creating a community of people to be able to give back in a big way.
And I would love to have more people. That want to be part of that and give back in a big way, whether it’s a car or it’s through your child, or it’s just simply through your time. And even if you’re not inspired to jump into Joy Ride, or you don’t live nearby, there are communities, or there there’s opportunities in your community where you can do the same thing and you can, you can have an impact in somebody’s life that could change them forever.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, thank you so much for [00:36:00] sharing. Um, if somebody wants to learn more about dandy Walker syndrome joyride, or perhaps just contact you, what would you suggest?
Blair Cornell: Um, the easiest way to probably contact me, um, since I do a lot of that through joyride is just come through the joyride website. That would be the easiest.
If you go to joyridecars.org. There’s a contact form. I read all of those. So if it’s regarding joyride or anything regarding what my son has gone through, I’m using Joy Ride as an opportunity to create a community that can, we can meet more people that we have common bonds with.
David Hirsch: Excellent. Well, what we’ll do is we’ll be sure to include the website in the show notes.
So it’ll make it easy for our listeners to follow up with you.
Blair Cornell: That’d be great.
David Hirsch: Blair, thank you for taking the time in many insights as reminder, Blair is just one of the dads. Who’s a part of the Special Fathers Network, a mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs. If you’d like to be a mentor or are seeking advice from a mentor father with a similar situation to your own, please go to [00:37:00] 21st century dads.org.
Thank you for listening to the latest episode of the Special Fathers Network data dad podcast. I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did. As you probably know, the 21st century dad’s foundation is a five Oh one C3 not-for-profit organization, which means we need your help to keep our content free.
To all concerned. Please consider making a tax deductible donation. I would really appreciate your support.
Blair, thanks again.
Blair Cornell: You’re very welcome, David. It’s my pleasure.
Tom Couch: And thank you you for listening to the Dad to Dad podcast presented by the Special Fathers Network. The Special Fathers Network is a Dad to Dad mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs through our personalized matching process.
New fathers with special needs children connect with mentor fathers in a similar situation. It’s a great way for fathers to support fathers, go to 21stcenturydads.org. That’s 21stcenturydads.org.
David Hirsch: And if you’re a dad [00:38:00] looking for help, or we’d like to offer help, we would be honored to have you join our closed Facebook group. Please go to facebook.com groups and search Dad to Dad.
Also, please be sure to register for the Special Fathers Network biweekly zoom calls. Held on the first and third Tuesdays of every month. Lastly, we’re always looking to share interesting stories. If you’d like to share your story or know of a compelling story, please send an email to David@21stcenturydads.org.
Tom Couch: If you enjoyed this podcast, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes or wherever you listen. But Dad to Dad podcast was produced by Couch Audio for the Special Fathers Network
thanks again to Rubin Law for supporting the Dad to Dad podcast. Call Rubin Law at (847) 279-7999 and mention the Special Fathers Network for a free consultation. [00:39:00]