Live Oak —
Dairy Queen, a family owned and operated business in Live Oak, was recently honored at the Dairy Queen Expo in Hawaii with the national Queen’s Champion Award for their generous contributions to the community. The family was recognized in January.
“We have won many other awards, but this one means the most,” co-owner Suzanne Dunn said.
According to Dairy Queen officials, the award is given to franchisees who best demonstrate pride in the brand through giving back to their local community. The award is only given every two years and only one out of 5,000 plus stores in the U.S. is chosen, and one store in Canada. Roy Guercio, on behalf of the Live Oak Dairy Queen, accepted this prestigious award.
Guercio opened the store 21 years ago with his wife, Shirley. Since then, they have semi-retired and left their daughter and son-in-law, Suzanne and John Dunn, in charge of the day-to-day operations of the business. The business still continues to play an active role in the community.
Over the past two decades, Guercio has been involved in numerous local groups and committees. The business has also contributed to the community through monetary and food donations.
“The thing we feel strongly about is giving back to the community,” Suzanne Dunn said. “We feel so fortunate to do business here in Live Oak and John and I feel fortunate to be able to raise our children here. Giving back to the community just goes hand-in-hand.”
Dunn said they have placed a special emphasis in supporting the children of this community.
Guercio added, “We credit much of our growth to the positive results from our partnership with our local elementary schools and with our larger private schools.”
Dairy Queen has always opened their doors to local schools to hold fundraisers.
“It’s typical for other businesses to contribute 10 cents per dollar to be given to the school for those who come in specifically for the school. We give 30 cents per dollar for all business we get during the fundraiser, and we have done it for all schools,” Suzanne said.
In addition to store fundraisers, they sponsor sports teams each year that participate in Suwannee Parks & Recreation programs.
“This adds up to about 60 teams or over 1,500 young people that have grown up knowing that their local Dairy Queen supports them,” Guercio said.
Guercio said Dairy Queen also sponsors various middle and high school sports, both boys and girls, such as volleyball, soccer, swimming, basketball and softball.
Dairy Queen was the initial sponsor of the Suwannee County Fair 5K race, and has continued to sponsor it for the past 19 years.
Dairy Queen contributes thousands of free cones to children in Suwannee County every year.
The store provides a free cone to every Suwannee County and private school student who makes the honor list at the end of each nine-week period. A free cone is given to every little league player that comes into the store on game day with their uniform on.
Dairy Queen partners with local schools and police to reduce bullying.
“We keep the police chief well supplied with free cone coupons to donate during his anti-bullying presentations or whenever he needs one to cheer up a young person,” Guercio said.
The store participates in Live Oak’s efforts to keep children safe on Halloween and gives out about 1,000 cones during that night.
Dairy Queen is also a supporter of Relay for Life of the American Cancer Society, and has hosted benefit events at the store for the cancer society.
Although Dairy Queen has given much back to the community, the family gives thanks to the people for supporting them.
"We have received more from this community than we have given,” Guercio said.