Panora resident Bill Ridgley was awarded one of five $5,000 Sub Abover grants from Jersey Mike’s Subs in recognition of his efforts to make a difference in the local community through Tori’s Angels Foundation.

Fellow volunteer Jackie Wicks nominated Ridgley and wrote, “Bill Ridgley is the unpaid CEO of Tori’s Angels. This foundation helps families of kids with life-threatening medical conditions. The foundation pays insurance deductibles, co-pays, medicine, mileage for treatment, air fare, hotel stays, meals, prosthetics, etc. — anything out of pocket for the family so that they can concentrate on getting their child well. This is an all volunteer organization run by Bill Ridgley and his wife, Connie…It wouldn’t be possible without the hard work of Bill (and Connie).”

The idea of Tori’s Angels Foundation began in July 2010 with a community breakfast fundraiser, hosted by the Panora United Methodist Church, and organized by Ridgley, his wife, and two other couples. Their goal was to raise money to assist with the medical expenses of then five-year-old Tori Heckman of Panora, who has had multiple heart surgeries since birth.  

“The response from our small community was enormous,” said Ridgley. “We have about 1,000 people in our town, and over 800 came to the event.”

The fund raiser was so successful that the idea of a foundation to help other children with life-threatening medical conditions was born, and was named for the community “angels” who generously supported Tori.  She is now 13 years old and thriving.

“We had no idea at the time that we’d end up with 48 kids, and we are still growing dramatically,” Ridgley said.

Presented to those making a difference in their local communities, the $5,000 grants are designed to help the winners make an even bigger impact.

Ridgley said that the grant from Jersey Mike’s will allow them to take on an additional child. “It costs about $5,000 to cover each child.”

With no administrative costs, every dollar donated to Tori’s Angels goes directly to help the children and their families throughout Iowa.

Jersey Mike’s received more than 3,100 nominations for the Sub Abover grants. “It’s inspiring to read the stories of so many who are making a difference in someone’s life,” said Rich Hope, Chief Marketing Officer, Jersey Mike’s Franchise Systems, Inc. “That’s been a guiding principle of Jersey Mike’s since our Founder Peter Cancro bought his first sub shop at the age of 17, and we’re happy to recognize Bill for fulfilling that vision.”

Ridgley advises those who are interested in getting more involved in the community to find a cause they are passionate about. “Some don’t want to give time or treasure because they feel it limits them, but the more you give — even washing dishes at a fundraiser — the more you receive.”

The other four Sub Abover grants went to Christene Layne, Operation School Shoes, in Dana, Ky.; Laura Herzog, Honoring Our Fallen, in Garden Grove, Calif.; and Joe Leal, Vet Hunters Project, in South El Monte, Calif., and Jay Coakley, Ellie’s Hats, in South Riding, Va.

“Giving…making a difference in someone’s life” has been the mission of Jersey Mike’s from the beginning. It started with Jersey Mike’s Founder Peter Cancro who shares the importance of giving back and inspires the rest of the company. Jersey Mike’s named the Sub Abover grants to reinforce its goal to: Help nourish. Help flourish. Be a sub above.

This March is Jersey Mike’s 9th Annual Month of Giving fundraising initiative, when more than 1,500 Jersey Mike’s locations across the country are joining forces with more than 200 local charities. Last year’s Month of Giving raised more than $6 million for local charities nationwide, and this year Jersey Mike’s wants to break last year’s record-setting total.

The campaign culminates in the nationwide event, Day of Giving, on Wednesday, March 27, when local Jersey Mike’s owners and operators will donate their resources and every single dollar that comes in to local charities. For more information on participating restaurants and charity partners, please visit www.jerseymmikes.com/mog/charities.

Since 2010, Jersey Mike’s locations throughout the country have raised more than $34 million for worthy local charities and have distributed more than 2 million free sub sandwiches to help numerous causes.