INDIANAPOLIS — Governor Eric Holcomb presented Hoosier businessman, community leader and mentor Reginald O. Jones, Sr. with the 2020 Sachem Award, the state's highest honor, at a ceremony Friday.
"Reggie's life is defined by his mission-minded mentorship and his unstoppable desire to help people maximize their potential," the governor said. "He's achieved great success by demonstrating that with limitless determination, a thirst for learning and with someone who believes in you, there's no dream that's impossible."
"It's remarkable to think of Reggie's impact and his influence whether bringing ingenuity and encouragement to entrepreneurs, or providing help and hope to the homeless through Wheeler Mission, or the work he's done instilling character and values into Indiana's youth, in helping them to grow to be responsible," said Vice President Mike Pence in a statement issued Friday. "Reggie has made a profound difference."
The Sachem is given annually to recognize a lifetime of excellence and moral virtue that has brought credit and honor to Indiana. Previous recipients include Holocaust survivor Eva Mozes Kor, and Reverend Theodore Hesburgh, president emeritus of the University of Notre Dame and world statesman.
Born in rural Alabama, Jones grew up in a small four-room home without running water and sometimes without food. Determined to make a better life for himself and his family, he set out to become a McDonald's owner/operator. He moved to Indianapolis in 1996 and purchased two restaurants located at 38th and Illinois, and 16th and Meridian.
Jones offered education scholarships to his crew members. He encouraged children to excel in education by creating an incentive program at Indianapolis Public Schools through which the students earned free bikes. Jones gave away more than 10,000 bikes over 20 years.
Today, Jones owns and operates four McDonald's franchises around central Indiana. He's earned two Ray Kroc Awards, which honors the top one percent of McDonald's restaurant managers from around the world.
As an adult, Jones returned to school at Martin University in Indianapolis where he graduated Magna Cum Laude with his bachelor's degree with dual majors of business management and marketing. He later went on to receive an honorary doctorate from the school.
Jones serves on the Wheeler Mission President's Advisory Council, the Indiana Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust Fund Committee, and the Crossroads of America Council, Boy Scouts of America Executive Board.
He and his wife, Tracey, live in Indianapolis with their two youngest daughters Rebecca and Regina.