LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aboard its 129th Rose Parade stagecoach and equestrian entry, Wells Fargo & Co., (NYSE: WFC) featured three notable riders—U.S. Marine Corps veteran Simon Kim, small business owner Bianca Vobecky and Wells Fargo team member Gonzalo Aguilar. In honor of the parade’s 2018 theme, “Making A Difference,” each rider represents a real-life example of the company’s commitment to improving the lives of its customers, team members and communities it serves.
“We applaud Simon, Bianca and Gonzalo’s achievements, and were honored to have them participate with us on New Year’s Day,” said David Galasso, Wells Fargo’s lead region president for Greater California. “These three remarkable individuals have each beat the odds in their own way, and we are excited to share their stories.”
Wells Fargo’s appearance in the 2018 Rose Parade included three of its stagecoaches. For the first time since Wells Fargo has been participating in the parade, each stagecoach was drawn by six horses, rather than four, reflecting the company’s iconic imagery. The first two appeared in the first 25 units. The third was part of the Rose Parade’s closing show, sponsored by Wells Fargo, featuring pop singer Andy Grammer.
Serving those who have served
Fulfilling a passionate dream to serve his country, Simon Kim joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 2006 and was deployed to Iraq in 2007. The lead gunner was awarded the Purple Heart commendation for injuries sustained during his deployment, including a bullet wound to his shoulder, shrapnel injuries and a concussion. In collaboration with the Military Warriors Support Foundation, Wells Fargo presented Kim and his son with keys to a new mortgage-free home. The bank also partnered with the nonprofit and Southern California Honda Dealers Association to surprise Kim with a new payment-free Honda Accord during a float decorating event on Dec. 28.
“It’s a privilege to serve our nation’s combat wounded heroes who served for us. However, we can’t do it alone. Together we can accomplish what we can only individually dream, and through collaboration with Wells Fargo, we are proudly improving the lives of our nation’s heroes and their families,” said Ken Eakes executive director of Military Warriors Support Foundation.
Propelling minority and women-owned businesses to thrive
After working in the construction industry for a decade, Bianca Vobecky started Vobecky Enterprises—a freight and general contracting company that focuses on military, utility company and government facilities—out of her home office in 2006. After moving her business accounts to Wells Fargo in 2007, she collaborated with her banker to learn about managing finances and improving both her personal and business credit. Today, Vobecky Enterprises has nine full-time and two part-time employees, and continues to grow yearly.
Building economic opportunity for team members
Eight-year Wells Fargo veteran Gonzalo Aguilar is a customer service manager at a downtown Los Angeles branch. After graduating from an inner city high school in 2007, Aguilar was working in the fast food industry. Still searching for his dream career, he discovered BankWork$, a free training program supported by Wells Fargo that helps adults in underserved communities prepare for careers in the financial services industry.
Since joining Wells Fargo, Aguilar has been promoted four times. He credits BankWork$ for providing him with the confidence to start his banking career and the drive to grow professionally. “Nine years ago, I could not have imagined myself as a banker,” he said. “I’m really grateful for BankWork$ and the opportunities it gave me, and for the bright future Wells Fargo is empowering me to create.” In collaboration with JVS-SoCal, Wells Fargo conceived the BankWork$ program. In 2014, the bank pledged to contribute $1 million dollars over five years to help support the program’s national expansion into 15 cities.
New Year’s trip of a lifetime
Wanting to make this New Year’s extra special for one lucky family, Wells Fargo conducted a national sweepstakes to award a Rose Parade themed trip of a lifetime. Dallas-based Linda Mendoza won, and the company flew her, as well as her son, daughter and grandson to Los Angeles. In addition to roundtrip airfare and accommodations, Mendoza’s family received grandstand tickets to the parade, Rose Bowl Game tickets, passes to view the Showcase of Floats and $1,000 spending cash.
Coincidentally, the trip’s memories are extra special for Mendoza’s family. One of her children, who accompanied her, was recently diagnosed with cancer.
About Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.9 trillion in assets. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, insurance, investments, mortgage, and consumer and commercial finance through more than 8,400 locations, 13,000 ATMs, the internet (wellsfargo.com) and mobile banking, and has offices in 42 countries and territories to support customers who conduct business in the global economy. With approximately 268,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in the United States. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 25 on Fortune’s 2017 rankings of America’s largest corporations. News, insights and perspectives from Wells Fargo are also available at Wells Fargo Stories.