Donna and Kevin are perhaps the most well-known couple in Suwanee and once you know them, they are very hard to forget. Together they founded Copper’s Crew, a Suwanee-based nonprofit formed in memory and honor of their son, Cooper O’Brien, a North Gwinnett Middle School student who lost his battle to Clear Cell Sarcoma in 2014 at the young age of 14. The O’Briens, along with the community, have taught us just how important it is to love and support one another.
What inspired you or led you to your current career?
Donna: I thought I wanted to be a secretary, but I enrolled in radiology school after high school.
Kevin: I have always been self-employed under the franchise umbrella. I’m drawn to being my own boss — customers become your boss. It has always worked for me.
What is your favorite restaurant in Suwanee and what do you love there?
Donna and Kevin: Cheeky. It was our oldest son’s favorite and they have been great partners with us with Cooper’s Crew.
How long have you worked or lived in Suwanee?
Donna and Kevin: 24 years
What has kept you here?
Donna and Kevin: The great schools. We landed here because of Suwanee being halfway for both our jobs, but found the community to be more than we ever expected.
Who is the most interesting person you’ve met in Suwanee?
Donna and Kevin: When we think of who has inspired us the most, it’s Mayor Jimmy Burnette. He went to high school here, has a business here, and is now the mayor. He has small-town charm. We also think of the Tate family.
If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?
Donna and Kevin: Italy.
What is the first movie you remember seeing in a theater?
Donna: Romeo and Juliet on “bottle cap Saturdays,” where we saved up 6 bottle caps to get into the movies.
What advice would you give a crowd of people?
Kevin: Be kind, think of others before yourself, inspire others, speak to strangers and thank people in everyday life like the bus driver driving your precious child to school.
Donna: Have the courage to be different and not always follow the crowd. Go sit with someone who is not in the crowd.
What is something on your bucket list?
Donna and Kevin: Nothing specific – we feel very blessed. Maybe a future trip for our 25-year anniversary. Our bucket list is planning for our retirement when we can travel.
What is your favorite music? Name three bands you would like to see?
Kevin: Van Halen and Def Leppard. I’ve been listening to more country music these days. Also, Nickelback, Bob Seger, Neil Diamond, Cher, Journey.
What local business makes you the most nostalgic about Suwanee?
Donna and Kevin: Sunshine Chinese, Tanner’s, Ippolitos, and Dick Cunningham, who is very charitable.
Choose anyone (past or present and a non-relative) with whom you would love to have lunch.
Donna and Kevin: Wayne Hill and Larry Johnston. We love to sit and talk to people who grew up here and talk about the past.
What is your favorite thing about Suwanee?
Donna and Kevin: The people.
Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
Donna and Kevin: In Florida, retired, with some tie to Suwanee. We will be back because we have grave plots here!
What is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
Donna: I am bossy and shy at the same time, and a behind-the-scenes organizer.
Kevin: I’m an average Joe from Wisconsin — more normal than you think!
Tell us more about Cooper’s Crew.
Donna and Kevin: Cooper’s Crew is community-driven and people who keep it dear to their hearts will sustain it for some time. We keep following that light that people provide to us. We pick up where the community left off when Cooper passed and continue his legacy as a kind, considerate person. We would like for Cooper’s Crew to stand for kids who need help along the way (with the scholarships) and for kids and adults who are diagnosed with Clear Cell and other types of Sarcoma for the research to give treatment options. People are suffering and need help. Private funding may make the biggest difference.
Learn more about Cooper O’Brien’s life and legacy and the Cooper O’Brien Legacy Award by watching this video.