Donnie Dixon Article
When times get difficult and a fellow tinter is diagnosed with cancer, support can come in unexpected forms and incite the unification of an industry that is not often talked about.
Donnie Dixon is no stranger in the window film industry. With over 27 years of experience under his tool belt he has done it all, from residential, to commercial and automotive window film. After spending over 49 years in his hometown of St. Mary’s, Georgia, Donnie made the move to San Antonio, Texas in order to be closer to his wife’s family. Within a month of Donnie being in Texas and job hunting, he began to notice subtle changes in his health. His wife Stephanie suggested he go to the emergency room since he had to get a drug test done for a potential employer, and within days he received his diagnosis stating that he had a blockage in his bile duct. After taking samples of the blockage, it was confirmed that it was ampullary cancer.
According to John Hopkins Medicine, ampullary cancer is rare, with less than 1% of gastrointestinal cancers being ampullary cancer. This rare type of cancer is formed in the ampulla of Vater, which is a small opening into the small intestine. This is also the place where the pancreatic and bile ducts release their secretions into the intestines (John Hopkins Medicine). A Whipple procedure was performed on Donnie in order to remove the tumor and now he is on his second round of chemotherapy in order to make sure that all cancerous cells are eliminated. He is on his way to recovery and while he may not completely feel like himself just yet, he is determined to get that pep in his step back and return to living his life as normal as before.
Donnie’s story gained traction through Rick McIntyre who was auctioning off a keg sprayer on social media. Rick went to Donnie’s page and saw the GoFundMe that was created and did a Live to spread awareness about Donnie’s story. One of the viewers was Dean Mitchell, XPEL rep & legend figure in the industry, and through their unified efforts, the story was spread around social media causing a rippling effect throughout the entire window film community. Messages of support and encouragement flocked to Donnie's account.
Donnie describes the support that he has received from everyone in the window film community as “a dream, something that can't be put into words.” He is so appreciative of everyone and said, “After tinting for over 27 years, having fellow tinters all over the world come to your aid when they don't know who you are is absolutely life changing.”
No stranger to the generosity of the window film industry, is John Little. In 2019 his wife Lark suffered a heart attack due to an infection growth that led to the need of a heart transplant. Medical bills started to accumulate and it happened quite quickly, considering that they did not have health insurance at the time.
Randy Sayen, a good friend of John Little encouraged him to start a GoFundMe page for Lark’s medical expenses. But like many hardworking people, the Little family hesitated which led to Sayen creating it himself. Through shares, Dean Mitchell caught wind of Lark Little’s story and took charge.
Mitchell auctioned a Makita heat gun, an essential staple in a tinters tool box. The highest bidder was a local DFW Area shop named Sunray Window Tinting. This led to Sunray having a tint benefit day along with guests, Dave Dellinger and Dean Mitchell to donate the proceeds to the Little fund. His actions caused a ripple reaction throughout the window film industry and soon enough, everyone rallied behind the Little’s cause. The support didn't stop there, at the annual Window Tint Conference representatives from all the big brands such as 3M, XPEL, Llumar, Hüper Optik, all had donation boxes for Lark Little.
John Little describes the experience as something life-changing due to the overwhelming response that the window tinting community demonstrated. He says that it changed his heart and is taking this opportunity to give back to Donnie’s cause by auctioning a set of corn hole boards made by his brother, and participating in another auction with Dean Mitchell.
Window Film World Unites
In a world that runs on social media, the window film community connects mostly through Facebook groups and online connections. With over 10,000 members, the Window Film Revolution Facebook Group is a way where tinters all over the world can connect and learn about one another.
This Facebook group is very popular amongst tinters for its giveaways and through these actions is how Donnie Dixon’s story came to light. Dixon describes it as something mind-blowing because it all started when he won a 5-Gallon Sprayer Tank and before he knew it many people reached out and wanted to find ways to help him in any way that they could.
Tintertainment's Role in the Donnie Dixon Story
Tintertainment’s Tinter Battles 2021 is a 2-day event—a unified gathering of the top industry members & influencers from all over the country to compete in the first ever Teams Competition. Bringing the power of fun in unity and the spotlight to one of our own, this events serves to help magnify the Donnie Dixon Story. The event is unique in that it consists of friendly rivalries between members of the industry who have a genuine shared appreciation of each other regardless of brand, backgrounds, & regions.
In his first official interview with Tinter Battles Competitor, Jason Omoletski, Host of Tintdude3 Talk Show on Instagram, Donnie Dixon expresses his deep gratitude towards the people who have reached out & contributed to his cause.
Tinter Battles will be live streamed on Tintertainment Facebook Page with live commentary from CoolVu’s Bob Bruder known as “The Rusty Squeegee” & Tint Wiz’s Erik Devash, one of the industry’s leading revolutionary voices. This competition is being put together through the leadership of Houston’s own Carlos Olazaba, owner of Texas Tint Masters, also known as THE TEXAS SQUEEGEE. When asked what his goal is with Tinter Battles, Carlos stated “My belief is that shared laughs & positive experiences have the power to amend broken relationships & further strengthen good ones. Through unity we elevate each other to new heights and as we grow as people, so will the industry as well. We hope to continue making positive strides as we are collectively doing through the Donnie Dixon Story.”
Saturday June 12th,: Event will begin at 9am with a Kid's Tinter Workshop that will segue into a super fun cookie eating contest at 11am. Following the cookies will begin a LIVE auctions & raffles to raise funds and donate proceeds to Donnie Dixon.
At 1pm, the Tinter Battles will begin with 7 teams to compete against each other for Tintertainment’s Tag Team Championship—LIVE Streamed on the Tintertainment Facebook Page for viewers worldwide.
Sunday June 13th will be a Drive Thru Tint Day: unified tinters in attendance will tint as many retail vehicles as possible to donate proceeds to the Donnie Dixon Charity.
When speaking to some of those involved, such as Erik Devash, he said that he is most excited to see the actual Tinter Battle event itself due to the big personalities and the energy that each person brings to the table. Devash also states that this event is very significant because there is a “definite need for people to get together” and believes that this event presents an opportunity for younger installers to get involved and network. Another voice who is a pioneer in the window film industry is Bob Bruder, host of the Be Plus Podcast, a man wiser beyond his years. Bruder has been tinting since 1981 and believes that Olazaba is unifying an industry that needs it more than ever.
David Karle, of Solar and Security Distribution states that “through adversity is when we can all come together and reach a goal that seems unattainable.” Believing that in an industry where you can learn from everyone, he states that this event will help bring tinters together from all over the country and allow them to learn different techniques and styles from each other.
It’s Time For Auctions & Actions
People from all over the country are stepping up and doing everything they can to donate to the Donnie Dixon fund. Here's a few:
- CoolVu is raffling “A Day in the Bay” where the winner will win a 7 day, 6 night all inclusive package with airfare, rental car, a Polynesian Cultural Center Experience, a tour of the North Shore, and “A Day in the Bay” with Tommy Silva at the T&T Tinting Specialists shop. Tickets are only $20 each or you can purchase 3 entries for only $50. An offer so generous and too amazing to pass up. Get involved here: BUY A TICKET HERE
- Dream Team Training Day is a package organized by Dean Mitchell where a team of industry influencers and leaders come together & visit the winner's shop for a once in a lifetime opportunity to provide a full in depth course on all things window film. From the training of installation, to the principles of running a successful shop, to marketing, branding, sales, and management. Kari Yochum from Iron Duck Designs is auctioning a Brand Builder Package that consists of a new logo design along with both digital and print elements. Digital features will include a fresh website, social media cover artwork, and one year of web hosting. Print components will include business card designs, mirror hangers, stickers, vinyl banners and merchandise such as coffee mugs and apparel designs.
- Jeff Welch from Tint Hozilla is producing CUSTOM 5 Gallon Sprayers with unique Tinter Battles Artwork for the competition that will be auctioned off with all proceeds going to Donnie Dixon.
- Tinter Battles '21 Competitor, "Dangerous Dave" Dellinger auctioned off his highly sought after Makita Heatgun HG100. After several bids, it was purchased by Raphael Van Dexter, Owner of Dynamic Tint in Jersey for $4,500. Proceeds were made to Donnie Dixon.
- Mike Burke from Sunstoppers designed and sold their unique "Tint Rats" shirt and made a contribution to the Donnie Dixon Charity.
- Billy Ellis from Florida won a Dash Protector during a Tint Wizdom Podcast Episode. He donated it back to Erik Devash with Tint Wiz for a surprise auction. Tint Wiz decided to match the highest bidder to contribute to Donnie Dixon's fund totaling $2,000 in proceeds.
- XPEL is providing the film & marketing for Tinter Battles 2021 and donating all retail proceeds to Donnie Dixon's Charity.
These are just a few of the MANY contributions across the window film community to help Donnie Dixon.
The window film industry has come a long way and we are all excited to continue building strength in unity on the platforms & accomplishments from like minded individuals doing their part to improve our industry moving forward for everyone within—THEN, NOW, & FOREVER.