United Way Car Giveaway: BJC Employee Watched. Entered. And Won!
Eyes wide and hand clapped over her mouth, Eileen Fuhrmann began to tear up. The woman who had been described moments before as “steady as a rock,” looked a little shaken.
But winning a new car will do that to even the steadiest people.
Fuhrmann, BJC Supply Chain senior sourcing manager, won the 2023 Ford Escape after entering the United Way of Greater St. Louis’s Watch. Enter. Win. contest — part of the organization’s annual employee giving campaign.
Her name was randomly chosen from thousands of people across the 16-county region the United Way serves who had watched the online video about the UW’s mission in September and filled out entry forms to be entered in the drawing.
She received the car in a surprise presentation Dec. 18 at the Auffenberg Ford North dealership in O’Fallon, Illinois.
At the dealership, Fuhrmann walked in with her supervisors, Mike Schroeder, BJC strategic sourcing director, and Ray Katke, BJC strategic sourcing manager, who had been tipped off to Fuhrmann’s win about a week previously. They had been tasked with getting her to the dealership without spilling the secret.
Schroeder and Katke came up with a story that would at least get them in the vicinity. They told her there was going to be an in-person meeting at Memorial Hospital in Shiloh about a possible lab expansion project. Katke offered to drive.
On the way to the “meeting,” they told Fuhrmann they had to stop at Auffenberg to pick up Tom Harvieux, BJC chief supply officer, whose car had broken down.
An unsuspecting Fuhrmann walked into the dealership to find not only Harvieux, but also Memorial Hospital operations vice president Jeff Dossett, who chaired BJC’s UW campaign, dealership owner Jamie Auffenberg and a crowd of cheering United Way and dealership employees.
As Auffenberg explained that she had won the gleaming blue SUV they stood next to, Fuhrmann listened, first in confusion, then disbelief.
“I won a microwave, once,” she said, “but never anything like a car! I’m flabbergasted!” (See the surprise.)
Auffenberg has donated a car to the United Way for more than 20 years as an incentive for donations.
“The United Way is such a great cause,” said Jamie Auffenberg, dealership owner. “The United Way serves a great many people in the community and we’re so happy to be able to create more interest and more response by supporting them every way we can.”
Meanwhile, Harvieux, Schroeder, Katke and Dossett all said Fuhrmann was more than deserving of the win.
“I worked with Eileen during our lab expansion, and it was a long process. She was always steady as a rock,” Dossett said. “She was my go-to person.”
Harvieux and Schroeder noted that Fuhrmann is always the first to support colleagues or give to a cause.
Katke agreed. “She is so selfless. She’s always doing for others. This couldn’t have gone to a better person.”
So, it was no surprise to find that Fuhrmann has been a long-time contributor to the United Way through BJC’s annual campaign. She had remembered watching the video this year, but never entertained any thought of possibly winning the car giveaway.
In fact, Fuhrmann said she’ll have to think about what to do with the car. She recently bought a new car for herself. (“Where were you about a month ago?” she joked with Auffenberg.) But she noted that her daughter has three teenagers at or near driving age who could use a car to get to school and practices. “I’ll have to think about it,” she said.
Whatever the outcome, Fuhrmann considers the new car “a blessing.”
The past year has been difficult for her family, with several family members facing tough health issues.
“We’ve had a really bad year,” said Fuhrmann. “This will make it so much better.”