Helping Hands Bring Out The Best

Jim Luff
Posted on November 3, 2009
When generous people need a hand themselves, will you be there to help them? A request for prayers and good wishes for Ken and Susie Martin of Stardust Cruises Limousine Service in Santa Maria, Calif.
GIVING BACK: There are plenty of good people in this industry. We have the ability to provide rides for terminally ill children through Make-A-Wish and similar organizations and many operators provide such service. Livery companies nationwide are called upon everyday to support such causes as MDA, the MS Society, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and a host of local organizations unique to each community.
There are some who do it more than others and some go greater distance than others but all charitable work is good work in my opinion. For 20 years, our company has provided limousine service for the family of any California law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty, from Fresno County to Los Angeles County and from Kern County to Bishop County. It sometimes takes us three hours just to get to the location of the funeral. There is a certain protocol followed at each funeral, especially with the California Highway Patrol, and they know we understand this and are willing to deliver the service anywhere they need us. Since we have officers who drive for us, we put them in the driver seat to serve the family of one of their own.
Tragically, we were called upon recently to provide service in Santa Barbara for a CHP Officer killed last week. We were not able to provide the service due to scheduling issues but I knew that I would be willing to find someone to do it and in my mind, I was already thinking about Stardust Cruises Limousine in Santa Maria. Ken and Susie Martin were selected as Operator of the Year by LCT Magazine a few years ago and are committed to the industry and their local service area. I told the CHP I would locate a limousine company to provide service for the funeral and have that company get in touch with them. Ken and Susie routinely travel from Santa Maria to Greater California Livery Association meetings in Los Angeles. I see them at every limo trade show I attend, and I knew they are as committed to lending a hand for a good cause as anyone I know.
I called and spoke to Susie Martin giving her what little information I had and asking if they would be willing to do it. She seemed to hesitate for a moment. I was puzzled but figured there must be some extenuating circumstance that caused her to pause. She then blurted out that Ken was currently at a chemo appointment and she hoped that he was “up to it” on Tuesday but either way they would get it covered for me.
I was stunned. How could a man so full of energy, so full of life, so caring and compassionate towards every human being he met be experiencing this? I once contracted Ken to pickup a busload of people in my city and drive them to Santa Barbara. Ken followed the bus three hours without a charge “just in case” they had too much luggage. That’s the kind of guy Ken Martin is. When we farm a job out to Ken and Susie, I don’t even call to make sure they showed up at the job. I simply don’t need to. 
I spent some time talking to Ken yesterday about his situation. I asked his permission to share with our readers his medical challenge. He explained he was suffering from Ideopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura or ITP for short. In his good nature, he referred to it as Idiot’s Disease, although Ken is certainly no idiot. In fact he is one of the most respected operators in the nation as he solidly put his company on the industry map despite being located in a small town on the central coast of California. The disease is attacking his blood platelets and destroys them as fast as his body can produce them. This can cause a person to literally bleed to death. Ken is facing a bone marrow transplant in January.
Meanwhile, the company's future is uncertain along with Ken's.. I am asking you to be there for the Martins. I am asking you to pray for Ken that he will find the miracle he so desperately needs. I am asking that if you are in the same service area, that you stand ready to help the Martins in their time of need without thinking of them as a competitor but thinking of them as a member of our industry who have given so much and deserves our support now that they need us.
-- Jim Luff, LCT Contributing Editor

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Jim Luff Contributing Editor
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