While he has sold thousands of vehicles through multiple automobile dealerships in southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky, a golf cart used to transport people short distances is one of Bill Cole’s favorites.
At the height of the pandemic in January of 2021, the president of Bill Cole Automotive Group donated funds to St. Mary’s Medical Center to purchase a six-seater golf cart. Driven by a security guard, the cart shuttles cancer patients from the parking garage to the hospital’s Infusion Center.
“We were having a hard time during the pandemic,” said Kristi Arrowood, executive director of foundations for Mountain Health Network. “Valet parking had to be stopped. Patients who were coming in for infusions had to park in the garage and walk five to seven minutes. That’s hard for folks who are on walkers or in wheelchairs.”
As a former president of the West Virginia Senate, Cole has been involved with several hospital boards over the years. These positions have given him a keen sense of the challenges facing health care providers in a rural region. “As a business owner who makes a living out of this area and depends on people here to do business, it’s your responsibility to give back when you can help that community,” he said. “That’s the right thing to do.”
“People coming to get treatments and having a long way between where they parked their car and went into the hospital were already having a tough enough time. They didn’t need to walk on a 20-degree windy day.”
Previously, in 2014, Cole’s in-kind donation of $25,000 helped Cabell Huntington Hospital purchase two Nissan vans for maintenance and transport use.
Cole eschews any personal credit for these gifts, as he sees them as gifts coming from the entire automotive company family.
“We just try to support those efforts that bring about a better quality of life for those who live here,” he said.