By Debbie Hall
Working together to help heal the grieving, educate about driving safety and offering well-built vehicles.Kelly Thomas-Boyers never expected a car accident to devastate her life but after the death of her son from his injuries sustained in a car crash in 2007, she founded Adam’s Place in 2009 and partnered with Land Rover Las Vegas to provide education, group support and resources for families coping with grief and loss. The partnership has grown to include a new community program for area teens. The goal is to provide a quality driver education experience and behind the wheel instruction on the proper way to navigate everything that goes into driving an automobile, a machine that weighs more than one ton.
People (many of whom are parents) work in the automobile industry, including Land Rover Las Vegas, with a desire to design and sell the safest vehicles possible. Thomas-Boyers, board president and acting executive director of Adam’s Place, stated that, “The first two things a parent is concerned about are the safety and reliability of the vehicle your teen is driving or is riding in as a passenger.
“I know first hand because when my son’s truck rolled over, the structural integrity of the roof of the vehicle he was in was such that it automatically caved in and forced his doors open. Unfortunately, we might think all vehicles are made the same but certainly are not.”
After the loss of her son, Thomas-Boyers was also concerned how her younger son would handle his grief and was unable to find any programs in Southern Nevada offering support groups for recovery geared toward young people. “After a year of research, I decided that was something I needed to do; to move forward and establish such a place,” Thomas-Boyers explained. “In 2010, we brought together a group of doctors, social workers and police that come into contact with grieving families to create Adam’s Place as a Grief Center for children, teens and families coping with loss and grief.”
Adam’s Place is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that works with children ages 3-18, along with an adult family member or caregiver, meeting every other week. They provide support groups using a peer support model along with education for children, teens and families coping with grief and loss.
“It has been an amazing journey to be able to open our doors for a family that may be seeking support for a major profound disruption in a family unit,” she said.
“We are so grateful and proud to partner with Kelly and all that she does for the kids and the community in general,” said Rick Nelson, marketing, events and social media manager for Land Rover Las Vegas.
A resident since 1994, Thomas-Boyers considers Las Vegas her home. An entrepreneur with an MBA in health care, Thomas-Boyers and her then-husband bought a home health care business, turning it into a very profitable company. Thomas-Boyers continues to work in the home health care industry as a consultant while pursuing a wellness coach certification.
“I want to be able to assist and consult small to mid-size businesses on wellness to include health coaches. I believe the program at Adam’s Place, ACS and Adam’s Best Drivers Ed are examples of the value of peer group, education and coaching as long term investments in children. Health coaches help employees invest in their own life style and health decisions.”
Born and raised in a small town in Ohio, Thomas-Boyers credits her parents as her inspiration. “My mother lost her first husband on D-Day (WWII) and was left to raise my stepsister. With the help of my grandfather, she bought a grocery store, became a business woman and created her own path. I am very inspired by her; finding her own way, creating her own independence and setting a great example.
“As for my father, whatever adversities came, he showed such resilience and set the bar for me.”
Thomas-Boyers also mentors college graduates. “Especially with the economic challenges that has been thrust on to them along with the fact that they are coming out of school with such great debt that I believe we need to make an extra effort to help mentor young college graduates and teach them skills not taught in school including networking.”
Thomas-Boyers advises that anyone wanting to begin a nonprofit organization should realize that it is a business, “and like any business, you should have a business plan. No matter how wonderful the mission, it has to be sustainable from a business standpoint.”
The new Drive School Program with an emphasis on safety and hands on experience with behind the wheel training in a Land Rover was developed specifically for Adam’s Place. The program provides a needed service and generates income for Adam’s Place. This allows the organization to continue to offer its services to grieving families for free.
“We believe very strongly in Adam’s Place for what they do and we are big supporters for the community,” Nelson stated. “Kelly does a great job for what she does. She wanted to increase awareness for Adam’s Place as well as fund it with the driving school. We asked ourselves, ‘What better way to participate than to have one of the safest vehicles on the road, Land Rover, with them using a Land Rover LR2?’ It has the Land Rover Las Vegas and Adam’s Place logos on the car, so there is great awareness when driven.”
Since the Clark County School District made budget cuts to the driver education program, many students now are getting driver education online. Thomas-Boyers does not believe it is an effective way to learn how drive, with an analogy that it is like learning how to swim without going into a swimming pool.
While investigating what it takes to start a driving school, Thomas-Boyers mentioned it to Land Rover Las Vegas. She was told that Land Rover is all about safety and Land Rover Las Vegas wanted to support the venture, donating the Land Rover LR2 used in drivers training.
“It is an amazing small SUV,” Thomas-Boyers said, “with so many features and high rating for safety and reliability.”
“We believe that by us helping Kelly in the driving school,” Nelson explained, “She is providing a great service to kids and their families. I believe she is very smart when she realized these days while students can take the driving classes online, it does not give the same training as physically being behind a wheel.”
“Our relationship with Land Rover Las Vegas has been a long one,” Thomas-Boyers said. “After my son’s death, I got thrust into looking statistically into car crashes and the number of deaths resulting from those accidents annually. I found car accidents are the number one cause of death for teens up to age 45. It is also the leading cause of death for children being improperly restrained or not restrained. In fact, typically, car crashes are the number one reason young families are referred to Adam’s Place.”
“My son was only in the car for three minutes when they swerved to miss someone who ran in front of the vehicle. He was ejected and sustained head injuries that lead to his death.”
Thomas-Boyers connected with Land Rover since they are a company reaching out to the community about driving and safety issues. A colleague was participating in a helmet giveaway with Land Rover Las Vegas which brought the company to Thomas-Boyers’ attention. She then began to volunteer with its helmet giveaway programs as well.
When Thomas-Boyers founded the Grief Center, Land Rover Las Vegas stepped up and really helped with the organization.
“I am truly impressed with Land Rover Las Vegas, not just giving dollars but totally getting involved,” Thomas-Boyers said. “In the beginning at events, they would bring out their microphone system and video systems since we could not afford that on our own. There is so much Land Rover Las Vegas does for us as well as other charities. That is just a great way for all of us to have wonderful activities while getting the word out.”
According to Nelson, after learning to drive on a Land Rover, when the teen grows up and is ready to purchase that first car, he or she will remember the Land Rover they drove. Land Rovers are also one of the strongest vehicles manufactured and can protect a new driver if an accident does occur.
While some Land Rovers can reach the $200,000 threshold for certain full-size Range Rover models, Nelson also emphasized that Land Rovers are attainable cars for most households. The price range begin around $37,000 for the LR2 (used by Adam’s Place) which features safety, size and green factors. Pre-owned vehicles can be purchased for about 60 percent of the cost of a new one and still retains its value with a warranty up to 100,000 miles.
The Land Rover business model includes creating a sustainable business including introducing new technologies designed to reduce CO2 emissions and improve fuel consumption. Land Rover is also committed to using fewer resources and creating less waste.
According to Nelson, Land Rovers are among the strongest and most reliable vehicles on the road today. Also, driving a Land Rover is very smooth and not the feel of driving a larger sized SUV.
As for her personal time, Thomas-Boyers stated, “I work hard and I play hard and that is what Land Rover is about and that is what I am about as well. I love the lifestyle versatility of the LR2. You can load it up with golf clubs, tennis racquets and anything else you need, and still drive to someplace like the Smith Center for the Performing Arts in a beautiful vehicle.”
Nelson stated it best when he spoke about Thomas-Boyers, “Kelly cares about what she does, she is passionate about what she does and she is good at what she does.”