The Gift: Sharing the Love

11/30/2017

Winter 2017

When you put a little love in your heart, magic happens. You may recognize Tigran’s smiling face and well-decorated Junior Ranger’s uniform from a heartwarming Subaru Share the Love commercial.

Tigran, an enthusiastic Junior Ranger who has visited 90 national parks to date, starred in the spot telling the world about his passion for the parks. While many were inspired to love the parks a little more, one Subaru family was moved to do something so special we want to share it with Drive readers.

The family, who wishes to remain anonymous, wrote to Subaru with a special request:

Two years ago, our uncle passed away and the family was left to distribute his estate. He was an avid cruise ship passenger, but before his wife passed away, they drove everywhere and visited almost every national park on this side of the Rockies twice.

One of the last remaining pieces to his estate was a set of national park bronze medallions (27 medals) and a custom-made wood and acrylic case for them. If you could, can you give the case and the set of medallions to that enthusiastic fan of national parks that was in your commercial?

Our uncle and his wife would’ve wanted to share this with someone who is young, enthusiastic and loves as much as they did what Theodore Roosevelt set up for the recreation of all citizens of the world.

An anonymous donor gave Tigran their uncle’s collection of national park bronze medallions.
An anonymous donor gave Tigran their uncle’s collection of national park bronze medallions.

Fulfilling a Dream

Touched by the letter and generous offering, Subaru moved quickly to make the family’s wish happen. The medallions were shipped to a Subaru retailer close to Tigran’s home. The large box also held a private, sealed letter for Tigran from the donors.

We contacted Tigran’s parents, Chinna and Vahagan, and invited them to a customer appreciation event at Kirby Subaru in Ventura, California. They were told Subaru had a special gift for Tigran and wanted to give it to him during the event.

The wheels were in motion!

Tigran views a photo belonging to retired ranger John Ward.
Tigran views a photo belonging to retired ranger John Ward.

The Big Day

On a warm and sunny Saturday, a crowd gathered at Kirby Subaru. The air was festive; there was food on the grill and live music playing.

Eighty-six-year-old John Ward, a former ranger at Olympic and Yosemite parks who is now retired and living in nearby Ojai, made a special appearance. He showed up in full ranger uniform to share stories and photos from his days patrolling the parks on horseback. John took Tigran aside and the two sat together speaking quietly. Old and young connected easily through their shared love of the parks.

David Begin, park ranger for Channel Islands National Park, and Tigran
David Begin, park ranger for Channel Islands National Park, and Tigran

The Reveal

When it was time, the crowd grew silent and focused on the boy as a piece of treasured history was handed down to him. His face said it all – wonder and gratitude.

Special guest David Begin, park ranger at nearby Channel Islands National Park and a mentor to Tigran, was there for the presentation.

“These are some of the earliest collectibles in the history of the National Park Service,” he said. “It’s more than fitting that Tigran received them. He collects Junior Ranger badges, learns about the parks, and educates people on the parks he’s visited. Even more importantly, he encourages new generations to love the parks, too.”

“I feel humbled that I was chosen to be the recipient of this special gift,” Tigran said. “The medallions are incredible, but the letter that accompanied them really left an impression on me.”

Tigran said his goal has always been to get people to the national parks.

“This kind family really believes in that too, and the importance of getting kids to carry on the legacy of protecting these beautiful places,” he said.

Somewhere, we think an uncle is smiling.

Tigran and his parents at Kirby Subaru in Ventura, California