A rare illness didn’t keep Steve Evanowski, an assistant store leader for a QuickChek in Piscataway, N.J., from helping to raise $148,500 to feed local hungry families.
Evanowski, who suffers from a rare muscular disease, eosinophilic myositis, which has gradually taken his strength over time, works in a specially-designed, one-of-a-kind chair lift system that QuickChek created just for him.
For the third year in a row, behind his outgoing personality and cajoling, Evanowski helped his store raise the most money out of QuickChek’s 147 store locations in New Jersey, the Hudson Valley and Long Island during the recent Check-Out Hunger campaign.
QuickChek presented the Community FoodBank of New Jersey with a check for $148,500 on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017 for the monies the company raised during the six-week campaign during the recent holidays to help feed area hungry families in need.
Evanowski’s Piscataway, N.J. store led the way, raising $11,049.
“This is my way of giving back and asking people to help others in need just as so many people have helped me,” said Evanowski, who has worked at QuickChek for 31 years since graduating from Piscataway High School in 1985.
Eosinophilic myositis was so rare when he was diagnosed with the illness at age six that the National Institute of Health did not have it listed in its rare diseases database. Doctors originally said Evanowski would not live to age 20.
Evanowski was able to walk as a child and through his school years. When he first went to work for QuickChek he stood behind the register like other cashiers, occasionally leaning on the counter to rest. He would sometimes use crutches or a wheelchair to get around. In May 2002, someone accidentally bumped his foot, breaking his right tibia, requiring surgery and more than a year in bed to recover.
When Evanowski informed the company president he was ready to come back to work, QuickChek’s Director of Engineering Rick Wisler created a one-of-a-kind chair lift device at a cost of more than $10,000 allowing him to move comfortably behind the store’s counter without impairing other employees.
“There was never any talk of cost; but that we have an employee in need and we need to take care of him,” said Wisler, of the unique device, which includes a pulley system where Evanowski can move both horizontally as well as vertically behind the entire length of the store’s checkout counter.
The desire to help a team member as well as giving back to the community is part of the Whitehouse Station, N.J. company’s commitment to meeting the needs of its customers and its team members.
Named Convenience Store Decisions’ 2016 Convenience Store Chain of the Year, QuickChek enjoys a long history of giving back to the communities it serves. Through the dedicated efforts of team members like Evanowski, the company raised $148,500 in just six weeks to help hungry area families in need. In the three years it has been a Check-Out Hunger campaign partner, QuickChek has raised $433,500.
“I am happy, because this place gives me life,” said Evanowski during his usual banter with customers during the store’s early morning rush as he rang up their coffee, breakfast sandwich and other on-the-go convenience item purchases.