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Patrick Christensen, local business owner, making an impact with local non-profits and the disabled community

Patrick Christensen donating the van to the Hands of Opportunity Center provided by Horizon Retail Construction

Patrick Christensen donating the van to the Hands of Opportunity Center

Most human beings innately hope one day, when all is said and done, they will be remembered by the positive impact they have left on their community. In the end, giving back is what keeps humanity moving forward and achieving more. Patrick Christensen is no stranger to this sentiment-he embodies it through both personal and professional efforts.

Christensen — president of Sturtevant-based Horizon Retail Construction — has made it his mission to leverage and utilize his assets as a business owner to create a better tomorrow for his community.

Sub head: How one unrelated conversation ended making a big impact

When Christensen and his team wrapped up a project at Louisiana’s Louis Armstrong Airport in late 2019, they realized the 15-person passenger van they used to shuttle employees to and from the job site was no longer needed.

Although using the van for future Horizon projects was an option, Christensen knew it could be put to better use. He recalled an earlier conversation with Sheryl Hamilton, executive director of Hands of Opportunity Center (HOC), a non-profit organization which serves special needs communities in Racine County.

Hamilton had shared the organization was having a hard time transporting kids from their schools to afternoon activities at the HOC. One of those kids included a member of Christensen’s family who was an avid user of the HOC.

After the completion of the Louisiana construction project, Christensen remembered the conversation with Hamilton. Linking to two, he knew he wanted to help HOC, an organization which has long served his own family.

He quickly arranged for the van to be tuned and cleaned, shipped it to Racine and donated it to the HOC in January 2020.

Thanks to Christensen and his team, the HOC now uses the van to transport the children from school to offerings at the center like after-school child care and special needs programming.

“The Opportunity Center really does a lot for our community,” said Christensen, 55. “It feels great that I can do something for these kids who otherwise don’t have all the opportunities other kids have.”

Subheadline: Making a special night possible for special needs high schoolers

Prom is one of those rite of passage for high schoolers, and for special-needs children of the Racine Unified School District, it’s no different. The “A Night to Remember Prom” is an annual event providing them the opportunity to participate in celebrity-style treatment for one magical night.

As an event sponsor, Christensen was able to send 30 special-needs kids to the prom.

Upon arrival, chauffeur-driven prom-goers clad in sequined, floor-length gowns and tuxedos walk or are pushed in wheelchairs down a red carpet to the cheers of local high school football players and cheerleaders, as well as firefighters and police officers. Clapping spectators also attend in bleachers lining the red carpet, doling out plenty of cheers and encouragement.

Several of Christensen’s Horizon employees donated their time to help plan the prom and work as ushers and servers, making the evening truly memorable for all prom-goers.

After working behind the scenes, Christensen and his employees attended the magical event which left a lasting imprint on their own hearts.

“I went and cried,” he said. “It’s a very, very nice event. It’s a huge deal to get dressed up and ride in a limo.”

Horizon Retail employees volunteering at Labor of Love

Horizon employees mobilized to help spruce up Love, Inc.'s new distribution center.

Photo provided by Horizon Retail Construction (pull from Striving to make a positive difference — local business owner gives back to the disabled community, other local nonprofits | Sponsored | journaltimes.com

A family affair

Christensen’s efforts at the Opportunity Center and in the Racine School District are just two of the many charitable initiatives he has been actively involved in since 2005.

Over the years, Christensen has given monetary contributions, in-person support and supplies to local and national organizations including March of Dimes, Salvation Army, Kiwanis Club of Greater Racine and Halo Inc. Christensen also believes it’s important to support local service members and their families, including an ongoing United Service Organizations program.

In fact, over a four-year period, Horizon matched all money its employees raised to purchase supplies from troops' wish lists, totaling $192,564. Troops received deodorant, card games, magazines, educational books, bug repellant, stamps, batteries and phone cards to help service members communicate with family.

Christensen’s mission to give back is infectious and cultivated by his team members at Horizon Retail. His desire to support local initiatives and groups most in-need have inspired his employees to become involved in charity work throughout the region.

The pandemic halted several of the initiatives Christensen and Horizon Retail have participated in, but Christensen said many are kicking back off as local areas reopen. Christensen says everyone at Horizon, including himself and his family, are excited to get back to giving back.

“Now more than ever,” Christensen said, “our local community has a need.”

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