Doing time for the MDA

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 3, 2004

Suffolk raises thousands for muscular dystrophy

By Jason Norman

Toiling away at TRINDCO on Thursday morning, vice president Russell Warren kept glancing out at the lobby. His co-workers milled around, whispering to each other and stealing looks at him.

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&uot;I thought, ‘Why aren’t they working?!’&uot; Warren said. He had a busy day; a client had just arrived to travel with him to the Eastern Shore, where they’d look over materials for TRINDCO, which won an award from the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce for being one of the area’s top small businesses of 2004.

Warren’s client stood outside his office, chatting with the employees. Then, just after 9 a.m., a huge limousine pulled up outside the Obici Industrial business. At first, Warren wasn’t surprised; such a mode of travel is common for some of the company’s well-off clientele. Then a co-worker told him it was for him.

&uot;What did I do?&uot; Warren wondered. &uot;I was a little bit surprised.&uot;

The driver pulled out a pair of handcuffs, and secured Warren’s arms. He was led to the back of the limo, and it sped off.

As it turned out, the entire morning was a hoax. For the past six weeks, TRNDO’s employees had been secretly raising money for the Multiple Dystrophy Association in his name. The client was there to ensure that Warren didn’t have a busy day. He was on his way to the MDA Jail at the Holiday Inn on Pruden Boulevard, where he’d meet some of the area’s other fundraisers.

&uot;It was pretty hard keeping that a secret,&uot; said front desk manager Cheryl Styron. Aside from themselves, TRINDCO workers had been asking clients for pledges, and estimates for their final result were above $2,000. &uot;It’s cool that he of all people got to do that. He’s great to work with, because he’s got a good sense of humor. No matter what, he comes to work every day, and works hard.&uot;

Over at the Inn, Warren put on the stereotypical prison garb of a black and white striped shirt and stepped inside a jail, where he was photographed. TRINDCO was one of over 200 local businesses to contribute to the MDA, which, estimated health care services coordinator Bonnie Dozier, brought in nearly double the $24,000 of last year, making it the highest till every for Suffolk.

&uot;We have more jailbirds this year,&uot; she said, referring to those having their photo taken. &uot;We had about 70 more people recruiting. Most of the time, if you ask, they say yes if they have the hour to give up.&uot;

Warren sat at a table, calling a few more potential pledgers.

&uot;I was pretty happy about it,&uot; he said. &uot;I’ve donated to MDA before; it’s a good organization that goes to help a lot of people.&uot;

In just three days, Jeanie Clay and the rest of the Vulcan Material Company brought in over $2,700.

&uot;We just got on the phone and called vendors and customers,&uot; Clay said. &uot;The concrete and asphalt companies were very generous. This is a good cause, especially because of the people who have kids who have (MD). It’s very costly, and seeing them go through this made us feel that something had to be done.&uot;

It wasn’t the first time Gail Williams had gone to the slammer for MDA, and it won’t be the last.

&uot;They just have a tendency to bother me, but I don’t mind!&uot; joked Williams, a representative of Suntrust Bank who has been behind the MDA bars three times. &uot;It’s a good organization to support, and I’ll keep going as long as they ask me.&uot;