Newsmaker Q&A: Rob Bennett, automotive group president – Allentown Morning Call
Rob Bennett, chairman of the Greater Lehigh Valley Auto Dealers Association’s Charitable Contributions Committee, announced earlier in the week the group’s largest gift to date: a multi-year pledge totaling $100,000 for the Children’s Hospital at Lehigh Valley Hospital. For Bennett, also president of Bennett Automotive Group, the gift was personal, as his 3-year-old son was a patient at the hospital not too long ago. Bennett, a car enthusiast whose group owns several dealerships, will also be bringing some new cars to the auto show later this month. He is the subject of this week’s Q&A.
Q: Why did the dealers group select the Children’s Hospital for the $100,000 gift?
A: As a committee, our mission statement, if you will, is kids, cars and community. So it just made great sense to donate to the Children’s Hospital.
Q: I’ve heard this donation has personal meaning to you. Could you talk about that?
A: A year ago [Thursday] is when we discovered that our son had a brain tumor. A year ago [Saturday] is when he was operated on at Lehigh Valley Health Network, when they were able to remove the tumor. And then we became involved with the pediatric intensive care unit at the Children’s Hospital. And then, also, we were treated and it turned out to be malignant, so he received treatment at the Children’s Hospital at Lehigh Valley Health Network. So obviously, it’s very personal to me because the care was just unbelievable. And the doctors … I’ve never encountered the tremendous love, which is not too strong a word to describe the doctors’ care for our child. To develop a relationship where you hug your team of doctors was pretty incredible to me. All three pediatric oncologists were equally wonderful. But the one doctor is in great shape and he damaged his Achilles heel playing basketball. But when our son had his results of his first MRI, and it was clear, he … when he got the results … it was a beautiful thing he did: He ran up the stairs because he couldn’t wait to give us the good news. And my only regret was that I didn’t give him a hug. That personal experience, the care and the nursing staff, the doctors, the brain surgeon that operated, it was a very difficult situation for my family, but they made it a lot easier and I’m very, very grateful that we have a facility like that in the Lehigh Valley.
Q: How’s your son today?
A: He had an MRI, a second one … and that too was clear. So he’s doing well. Like they say, kids are resilient. I owe it all to the staff at Lehigh Valley, and I mean that.
Q: What in particular will the donation help with?
A: My son and pediatric cancer patients have to go to the clinic that’s over at the Muhlenberg campus. So what this gift will enable the hospital to do is to centralize everything at Cedar Crest. So it’ll just be so much easier for families, for patients to be able to go to one location where everything will be housed under the one location. It’s just going to be a lot more convenient for the patients and their families.
Q: Switching gears to the auto show, what are the benefits for a dealer to be there?
A: The manufacturers love the fact that we have an auto show here in the Lehigh Valley. It’s gotten better and better every year. It’s critically important. Plus, because there’s the connection with the community — as I said, kids, cars and community — I think it’s important that dealers involve themselves in the auto show because not only is it an industry show but there’s also the added benefit of being able to give back to the community.
Q: Are there any noteworthy vehicles you’re going to bring to the show?
A: I’ve seen the new XE, which has been to the dealership, which is the roughly $40,000 Jaguar, the new Jaguar that’s coming. That’s going to be at the auto show, so it’ll be the first opportunity for people in the Lehigh Valley to see the car. Secondly, what I’m very, very excited to see in person is the F-Pace, which is the luxury Jaguar crossover. That too will be at the show.
— Jon Harris