Doing the Right Thing: Jason McDermott
Jason McDermott received the Governor James M. Cox Award — the highest honor given to a Cox employee — because he exemplifies our Purpose by doing the right thing for his community. He transcended his job as a field technician for Cox Communications in Omaha, Nebraska to become a local hero by helping a distressed 8-year-old boy.
McDermott was repairing a cable line near Lewis & Clark Elementary School when he saw the boy running toward his truck. That raised a red flag for McDermott, who also noticed that the child appeared to be upset and had marker scrawled across his face. Two women who turned out to be the boy’s teachers were trying to catch up to him.
From up on the truck lift McDermott asked the boy if he was having a bad day. The boy nodded that he was and McDermott told him to wait as he lowered himself down to the ground.
A Calm Voice
As the teachers caught up and then stood by, McDermott introduced himself to the boy, Bryson Foote. He talked about his truck and showed him his tools to try and soothe him. He told Bryson about his three sons, ages 15, 13 and 4, and how McDermott expected his boys to be in the classroom during this time of day. After Bryson calmed down, McDermott gave him a snack and convinced him to return to school.
“That’s just what you do for your community,” McDermott said. “You help people when they need help, and that’s just how I live.”
That small gesture of compassion impressed the elementary school principal. She contacted McDermott’s supervisors with an emotional message of gratitude for McDermott’s calmness and readiness to step in and help a child.
"One of our very own was out there and saw a problem and fixed it," said Cox Enterprises President and CEO Alex Taylor. "It makes me proud to know that where we’re out there doing business that we’re going to do things that people in other companies in other places might not do. When we talk about making the world better for the next generation, you have to lead by example and you have to show people the right thing to do."
A Source of Pride
About a month later, McDermott made a special visit to Bryson’s classroom. Bryson met him at the door with a big smile and happily introduced his new buddy around. McDermott brought a snack for the kids and performed a fiber optic cable demonstration.
“There was a big difference between his behavior on the day we met and the day I returned to the school,” McDermott said. “It was awesome to see the kid happy and involved with his class.”
McDermott’s supervisor, Doug Olson, said he was thrilled to learn McDermott received the Governor James M. Cox Award, the highest honor given to a Cox employee.
“In his mind, this was something he does every day, but it was bigger than that,” Olson said. “If anything like that ever happened with one of my children, I hope there would be someone there to help the way that Jason did.”
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