We’re starting a new segment called the Gentlemen of the Month here at GentlemenCare. We want to highlight talented men and women from our community who are doing great things, and changing our world for the better. We sat down with our Philanthropic Advisor, Aaron Horn. Aaron is someone we have had the great pleasure of getting to know well over the last few years. A true difference maker, Aaron is the Director of IT at Iowa Interstate Railroad, President of Beat Cancer Today, and Founder of Corrobo, a proofreading service for startups. We’re honored to have him as part of our team, and we think you’ll agree. Here we go:
To get started, Aaron, why do you live in Iowa?
I live in Iowa because most of my family is here. My parents live in Stuart, IA and my in-laws live in Cedar Rapids. I also live in Iowa because of the quality of the schools, the quality and low cost of living, the great local talent, the community support of entrepreneurship , and the friendly and helpful people in general. I even appreciate the full range of seasons we get here, although that’s harder to say after getting 10+ inches of snow recently. 😉
What is the most important thing to you regarding personal connections / family?
I am married with five kids and family is my priority. I don’t really worry about the idea of work/life balance. It’s all life, so I just try to do the best I can in making time with my family a priority. Of course there are times that I have an evening meeting or need to travel for work and be away, but making sure I’m spending as much time at home as I can is important to me.
What is your most important business philosophy?
Integrity in everything I do. How I do business is a reflection of who I really am. When you and I meet, I’m going to be the same guy whether we meet as potential business partners or at a social event after work. I look for long term business partners, not just one off vendors or customers, so honesty and real relationships are important.
What is the most important thing to you regarding philanthropic service?
I think that doing something that impacts other people is important. I feel very blessed to be able to dedicate some of my time and resources to helping others. Whether it’s financially supporting a local ministry, a global ministry, or spending time and effort on Beat Cancer Today, serving others is something that is important for me to make time for. I might regret spending time on certain things at the end of my life, but spending time helping others won’t be one of those regrets.
Tell us a little about ‘Beat Cancer Today’. How / why did you start it?
My son Eli was diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroblastoma at the age of three and a half in 2007. He fought it for over four years and the harsh treatments ended up causing secondary cancer (leukemia) and he passed away in 2012 during a transplant a month before his 8th birthday. I co-founded Beat Cancer Today back in 2009 with a few other families in Iowa that were battling childhood cancer. One of the moms saw those “Beat Iowa” and “Beat State” tshirts and thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if both teams wore ‘Beat Cancer’ shirts instead?”
We decided to make them and sell them with profits going to Children’s Cancer Connection, Children’s Oncology Group Foundation, and the University of Iowa Dance Marathon because these are organizations that do really great work for childhood cancer families and had touched all of us personally. It really took off and we became a 501(c)(3) that still sells the tshirts/hoodies/bracelets for schools and businesses and also holds fundraising events to continue to support those three organizations. In 2015, we were able to give $57,000 to those charities. In the last 3 years, we have been able to donate $118k to these organizations that offer family and patient support programs as well as research for childhood cancer. If you’re interested in seeing our Beat Cancer apparel, just visit www.BeatCancerToday.org!
Favorite piece of clothing you own? Why?
Is this where I’m supposed to say my GentlemenCare belt? 😉 Honestly, I really do love the GC products. I love the high quality and that I know the great guys that made it. I wear my belt every day and it works with any kind of situation. I also love the ability to throw on a nice blazer from Men’s Style Lab and instantly step up my look a notch.
What is a big life lesson that you’ve pick up along the way?
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Eli’s battle with cancer was obviously a very difficult time in my life. Over those four and a half years, it became very clear to me how silly it is to get so worked up over small things. I used to get upset over things like my kids spilling their drinks on the carpet. I would give anything to have Eli around spilling his drink on the carpet today. I think it was a huge eye opener for me to realize that there are way more important struggles in life you could be stressed out and anxious about than the little things that just don’t matter in the long run.