116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Troy and Katie Benham ‘give back’ to Marion
City’s first community impact award recognizes couple’s decades of volunteer work
MARION — When Troy and Katie Benham moved to Marion more than 30 years ago, they didn’t know anybody.
“It was weird, going to the grocery store and not knowing anyone,” said Troy Benham, 63.
That’s not the case these days.
The couple, owners of Marion Tire Co., 3270 Seventh Ave., were the first to receive the Morris F. Neighbor Community Impact Award for their involvement in the Marion community in the past three decades. The award, named in honor of banker Morris F. Neighbor, was presented at the annual State of the City address earlier this month.
“I was very surprised, first and foremost,” said Katie Benham, 60. “We were humbled by it.”
The couple, originally from Waterloo, met when they were youngsters. Troy, who was adopted, was the nephew of Katie’s foster parents. After time in the military, Troy returned to Marion, and they married, having three kids.
“It was some pretty humble beginnings,” Troy Benham said.
The business the Benhams opened in Marion grew to include their daughter, Ashley, who works with them, and their son-in-law, Steve Vandersee, who co-owns Mount Vernon Road Tire, 4217 Mount Vernon Rd. SE in Cedar Rapids. A couple of nephews work for them, too, as well as two of their grandchildren.
The Benhams’ volunteer work has included organizing cancer benefits, spearheading the Salvation Army’s “Miles for Smile” vehicle giveaway and raising money for Thanksgiving meals.
They’re also frequent donors to the Linn-Mar and Marion schools. And they sponsor the annual — and free — Dedric Ward football camp during the summer for 150 kids.
“We just do it because it’s the right thing to do, and we have a lot of business partners around Marion that help us with everything,” Troy Benham said.
“We’ve had many volunteers that have helped us,” his wife agreed. “This community has a lot of caring people.”
After the derecho
During the August 2020 derecho, the two were in Iowa City at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics for a follow-up appointment on the kidney transplant Troy Banham had had a couple of months earlier.
“We didn’t realize how bad it was until coming back on I-380. It was devastating,” Katie Benham said. “But when we got home, we had people in our yard already cutting the trees down.”
Though their home wasn’t damaged, both of their shops and their employees’ homes were.
“Our employees all helped each other and then went out and helped others … and there were a lot of tire repairs after the derecho,” Troy Benham said.
The morning after the storm, their son, David — who lives in Florida but was home helping his parents after his dad’s kidney surgery — checked on the residents of the Marion Village mobile home park. After he reported on the damage there, his parents swung into action.
“I called Hy-Vee and got water and prepared food boxes, and so many people came together and walked the Marion Village and gave out produce and water,” along with tents and sleeping bags, Troy Benham said.
“Some people there were hesitant because they felt like they would be taking from others. The mayor came with us, and we had five to six trucks and shortly after, the Red Cross made a presence there.”
The “Miles for Smiles” vehicle giveaway came about when Troy Benham “woke up one morning and said we should just do this, and we did,” Katie Benham said. “With everything, we just want to give back to the community that gave to us.”
The Benhams, as they are wont to do, thanked their partners on Miles for Smiles — Salvation Army, Marion Hy-Vee, Marion Tire, Deery Brothers Ford and others.
‘Where we came from’
The Benhams said their giving and volunteering comes from where and how they grew up.
“It’s about where we came from and where we are today,” Katie Benham said.
“We enjoy it,” Troy Benham added. “If everyone would do that, we’d have a better community — though we have a great community already. Cedar Rapids, too.”
Marion Chamber President Jill Ackerman said she was thrilled with the award-selection committee chose the Benhams for the inaugural community impact award.
“I’ve known the Benhams for over 15 years,” she said. “They have been so good to the Marion community, always looking out for those who need a hand.”
Ackerman said she especially liked what the Benhams’ nomination said: “Troy and Katie are always helping someone out, sometimes when people are watching, but most of the time when nobody is watching.”
“That is who Troy and Katie Benham are at their core,” she said.
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