Destin resident Wayne Chernicky is a real standup guy — more specifically, a standup paddleboard kind of guy.
After moving to the Destin area more than 10 years ago to open Shakes Frozen Custard, Wayne and his wife Dee have been in the business of sweets since 2001 when they, like so many others, fell in love with the sugar-white-sand beaches of The Emerald Coast and decided to make it home.
As a member of the Destin Area Chamber of Commerce, Wayne has attended the monthly "Business After Hours," event dozens of times before. So, when he attended the meeting in May, hosted by BOTE, he had no reason to believe the evening would be anything but ordinary.
But this meeting was different; as Wayne unexpectedly won the night’s door prize; a brand-new paddleboard donated by BOTE.
"By some stroke of unbelievable luck, I won," said Wayne.
The May 23 meeting was different for another reason. Just three days before, an EF5 tornado devastated Moore, Oklahoma and the surrounding areas, eventually killing more than 20 people.
Being from Oklahoma City, and having family members and friends who still reside in the Moore area, Wayne decided he was going to do something — anything — to help the nearly completely leveled community.
"I thought, 'I ought to do something with this board,'" Wayne said. "My sister lives in Moore … Thankfully, she was alright and her house remained standing, but so many of her coworkers and friends weren't as lucky."
So it seemed like kismet when a friend of Wayne's emailed him later asking if he could buy the BOTE board from him. Wayne told The Log that his friend paid nearly "full value," for the board — close to $1,500.
The money Wayne received from the sale of the board was donated, in full, to the disaster relief in Oklahoma.
"I split the money evenly between two charities; the Red Cross and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (a nationwide charitable organization that’s associated with the Catholic Church) that provides both immediate and ongoing assistance to families after a devastating event."
Wayne told The Log he was slightly skittish to tell folks about the donation, because he didn’t want anyone to think he was looking for a pat-on-the-back.
"Yeah, I was reluctant to tell anyone about it," Wayne said. "But, I wanted to remind people of the devastation that had just occurred." In the wake of the tornado, families were still trying to piece their lives back together the best that they could.
"This was going to be an ongoing struggle for the community … they would still be suffering next year," he said. "I know that area and the people well; it was organized chaos as they tried to recover."
Wayne added that since the chamber and the owners of BOTE; Magda and Corey Cooper approved of his selling the board and donating the funds, he would do just that.
"We do pretty well," said Wayne. Adding the money would be better utilized in Moore.
Destin Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Shane Moody said when he learned Wayne had donated all of the proceeds, he wasn’t surprised.
"He's one of the kindest, most giving chamber members we have," Moody said. "He believes that success should be shared, and he gives back to the community in so many ways."
Moody added that it was also great for BOTE, Corey and Magda, who are wonderful supporters of the chamber and give back tremendously to the community.
"It's why we love working with them on the standup paddleboard event; Paddle at the Porch," Moody said. "These acts are a great reflection on the kind of people that make our home community so great."
The Destin Area Chamber of Commerce "Business After Hours" event is a monthly networking opportunity for chamber members (and non-members) to gain exposure for their business. Attendees are encouraged to bring their business card for further networking and a chance to win a door prize.
Shakes Frozen Custard of Destin is located at 1065 Highway 98, visit them online at ShakesDestin.com or call them at 269-1111.
BOTE Boards is located at 73 Business Centre Drive in Miramar Beach. For more information on BOTE, visit BoteBoard.com or call them at 424-5010.
For more information on the Destin Area Chamber of Commerce, visit them online at DestinChamber.com or call them at 837-6241.