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Operator Takes On Personal Tragedy By Giving Back

Lexi Tucker
Posted on December 20, 2017
(l to r) Elena, Angel, and John Rodriguez
(l to r) Elena, Angel, and John Rodriguez

ANAHEIM, Calif. — For John Rodriguez, owner of Angel Limousine, the story behind his brand name is one of remembrance and hope. [Story continues below]

His son Angel was diagnosed with an extremely rare genetic disease called Ataxia-Telangiectasia (A-T) when he was two years old. A-T causes progressive loss of muscle control, immune system problems, and a high rate of cancer, among other symptoms.

There is no cure for the disease as of yet, and most children who have A-T depend on wheelchairs by the age of 10. Patients usually pass away from respiratory failure or cancer by their early or mid-20s. A few live into their 40s, but this is uncommon.

Angel is now 13 and in great health considering his diagnosis. He uses a wheelchair, but eats well and displays good spirits. He knows he is sick, but Rodriguez believes it’s better for him to not get into the details; he just wants him to live his life without distraction.

Rodriguez started his company seven years ago with one 2002 Cadillac DeVille and now has a fleet of 10, including a mix of stretches, a party bus, Sprinter van, SUVs, and sedans. During the first few years, he drove many hours and slept in his car if needed to grow the company. He runs the business from his home and keeps his cars at a warehouse where he rents space.

“I’m able to be with Angel after school 95% of the time. I try very hard to be the one who puts him to bed at night,” he says.

Because only 300 children have the disease in the U.S., funding is very limited; it doesn’t have the same recognition as leukemia or cancer. Rodriguez’ wife Elena has volunteered for the A-T Children’s Project to help raise awareness and raise money for a cure by answering phones during fundraising events. 

Rodriguez donates to the Make-A-Wish foundation and makes his operation the go-to company for transporting Make-A-Wish kids to the organization’s Irvine office. He is sometimes the one who drives the children and their parents, so he lets them know he understands what they are going through. He only charges the organization for the operating cost. “There’s no need for us to profit,” he says. “The limo business isn’t just about making money.”

He asks operators consider donating to the A-T Children’s Project to help find a cure. “For us, it just would be a blessing to stop the progression.”

Related Topics: charity, donations, industry charity, Make-a-Wish, small-fleet operators, WebXclusive

Lexi Tucker Assistant Editor
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