A Pool & Spa News Top 50 builder has partnered with a 90s pop icon to build swimming pools for charity. Deerfield Beach, Fla.-based Van Kirk & Sons Pools & Spas and rapper turned DIY Network renovation show host Vanilla Ice, who formally goes by Rob Van Winkle, are working with the Darrell Gwynn Foundation to donate swimming pools to people living with paralysis.
On March 20, the unlikely duo completed a pool for Derek Avilez, a firefighter and paramedic who sustained a spinal cord injury while skim boarding at the beach four years ago. It is the first of several projects Van Kirk has planned.
“I was moved by the Darrell Gwynn Foundation and how they give back," said the firm's president, Bobby Van Kirk. "We’ve been able to accomplish a lot and we love having the chance to use our talents to better someone’s life.”
Van Kirk wasn't the only one inspired by the foundation's mission. In fact, the project garnered the attention of local media outlets and created a frenzy that worked in the foundation's favor, Van Kirk noted.
"There were 200 people at the fireman’s pool," he recalled of the response they received during the pool's construction. "It was like a circus. We were waiting for the big top to go up. The response has been out of this world because of it."
Here's one of many reports from Florida news agencies.
Since then, the public has been made more aware of the Darrell Gwynn Foundation, and it's been reflected in recent donations.
"They did as much in one week as they did in a year," Van Kirk said. The media attention also boosted the pool firm's popularity. During that week, the company's website crashed because traffic was so high, he reported.
This is the first of two pools the team has constructed for victims of paralysis. The second is being built for six-year-old Owen Johnson, who sustained a spinal cord injury after his family’s van was hit by an intoxicated driver. The pool is expected to be completed on April 10.
The duo joined forces in October 2014 during a party for the Darrell Gwynn Foundation when Van Kirk was inspired to donate to the cause. After announcing at the party his intentions to build pools for five lucky recipients, he and Van Winkle developed a plan to construct the two pools, beginning with those for Avilez and Johnson. But it isn't the first time Van Kirk has worked with Van Winkle.
The two first met during Season 2 of "The Vanilla Ice Project" after Van Winkle approached the firm about building a pool for his show. Since then, Van Kirk has built a pool for seasons 2 and 4 with another under construction slated for Season 5. And the pools for Avilez and Johnson will be featured during the show's fifth season.
Van Kirk expects to build another pool for a third individual with paralysis that will be featured in Season 6 of the show.
Of course, he is not building these pools for exposure. Instead the pool builder said he is helping to spread awareness for a cause that has deeply touched him and his team. And It all unexpectedly began the day Darrell Gwynn visited the Van Kirk office.
"Within two and a half minutes, I had a bro crush on him," Van Kirk recalled. "After five minutes, I didn't notice he was in a wheelchair. We talked like old friends and he never asked me for a penny. We’re really happy to help."