University of South Alabama, Office of Public Relations
 
November 4, 2010
Contact: Jennifer Z. Ekman, USA Public Relations, (251) 460-6360
 

Longtime Mitchell Family Employee Donates Proceeds of Refurbished Car to Mitchell Cancer Institute
Kenny Sylvester Says He Felt Compelled to Give to MCI

 
Kenny Sylvester and grandson, Brian
Kenny Sylvester and grandson, Brian

Kenny Sylvester, longtime personal assistant to local businessman and philanthropist Abraham Mitchell and employee of the Mitchell Brothers Inc., recently donated the proceeds of a car he restored to the University of South Alabama Mitchell Cancer Institute.

The car, a 1991 Lexus LS 400, was previously owned by the Mitchell Brothers Inc. and used by the late USA philanthropist and trustee Mayer Mitchell. Sylvester bought it three years ago when it had 85,000 miles on it.

Sylvester and his 10-year-old grandson Brian, a fourth-grader at St. Pius X Catholic School, spent 14 months restoring the car to pristine condition. During that process, Sylvester mentioned the project to Mayer Mitchell’s brother and USA philanthropist Abraham Mitchell. Sylvester realized he wanted to use the car project to support the Mitchell Cancer Institute, a longtime dream he shared with his friends and employers, the Mitchell brothers.

“I felt compelled to donate the car to the Mitchell Cancer Institute,” Sylvester said. “I know Mayer would have been proud. I wanted to do something to show Mr. (Abe) Mitchell how much I appreciate what he and his brother have done for me over the years, and I wanted to do it while we were both still alive. I had a close, personal relationship with Mayer, and I just wish he were here to see this.”

USA Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Dr. Joseph F. Busta, Jr., said, “The University of South Alabama and USA Mitchell Cancer Institute are grateful for the support Kenny has shown through this selfless act of generosity. This is a great example of thinking outside of the box while supporting a worthy cause.”

MCI Director and Abraham Mitchell Chair Dr. Michael Boyd said, “Kenny is a wonderful person of many talents and a generous heart, and he is fiercely devoted to the Mitchell family, and the Mitchell Cancer Institute. This gift reflects all of those attributes. In addition, I am personally blessed to have Kenny as a dear and treasured friend.”

Sylvester said a huge side benefit of the project was the time he spent with his mechanically inclined grandson Brian, who is already searching for their next restoration project. Sylvester said he explained to his grandson that the proceeds from the sale of the car would be going to the Mitchell Cancer Institute to teach the boy a lesson in philanthropy.

Sylvester said he owes the Mitchell brothers’ much gratitude for their influence in his life.

“Being around them has opened up a whole new world to me,” said Sylvester, who has worked for the Mitchells for 29 years. “I hope this shows that everybody can do something, sometime in some way to support the Mitchell Cancer Institute. We are fortunate to have a modern state-of-the-art cancer treatment facility right here in Mobile. I’m hoping they find the cure for cancer in my lifetime, and I hope it will be right here in Mobile.”

 
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