Barbershop Quartet Singer, Navy Veteran and Cancer Survivor Chosen as Olympic Plumbing Technology’s BIG Water Heater Giveaway Winner


Submitted by Jerica Pender for Olympic Plumbing Technology

Every year’s end, Olympic Plumbing Technology holds its annual BIG Water Heater Giveaway. The idea is to improve a community member’s situation by installing a brand-new water heater, free of charge.

2023’s contest, the largest in the four years Olympic Plumbing has been holding them, saw hundreds of entries across Thurston, Pierce, and Mason counties. Anyone who owns a home and has a water heater that is older than eight years may enter themselves, or be nominated.

A panel selects a winner from the contestants, and “Honestly,” says Kimberly Boeckmann, Olympic Plumbing Technology CEO, “selecting just one winner is the absolute hardest part of the entire contest!” She says the company wishes they didn’t have to choose.

“Helping out our community, whenever and however we can, has been built into our business model from the beginning,” says Kimberly. “Because our customers are also our neighbors.”

Kimberly Boeckman, a person dressed as a bigfoot and Kevin Hartley standing on a porch with balloons and donuts
Kimberly Boeckmann, Olympic Plumbing CEO, surprises the BIG Water Heater Giveaway winner with Bigfoot, donuts, balloons, a certificate, and a brand-new water heater! Photo courtesy: Olympic Plumbing Technology

This Year’s Winner

Although selecting one among hundreds of entrants is no easy task, this year’s winner really stood out to the company. Kevin Hartley was nominated by his stepson, Justin Hartsell, who said in his entry: “My stepfather has been fighting cancer on multiple facets for many years. He is currently in a state of limbo, but after an unexpected early retirement after 30 years at Labor & Industries, times have been tough…”

In his nomination, Justin shared that four generations call the Hartley house home these days, 10 individuals in total, and since his dad is no longer able to maintain their home, Justin has been pitching in to pick up the slack. Something he can’t do, however, is replace the family’s “rigged up by a friend,” improperly vented and hazardous water heater.

Technicians Nate, left, and Aaron, pose with Olympic Plumbing’s mascot, Ollie the Bigfoot, and Kevin Hartley, the 2023 BIG Water Heater Giveaway winner. Photo courtesy: Olympic Plumbing Technology

Surprising Kevin

Because Kevin was nominated in secret, it provided a unique opportunity to surprise him on install day. “He could use a little cheering up,” according to Justin and his mother and Kevin’s wife, Darcy Hartley.

They were both in on it, and on Leap Day, (which also happened to be the Hartley’s wedding anniversary) Olympic Plumbing showed up on the Hartley’s doorstep with two technicians, the company’s CEO, the mascot, Ollie the Bigfoot, donuts, balloons, a certificate, and a brand-new water heater.

Kevin stood there taking it all in and said, “I’m speechless.” (You can watch the video here.) And according to his family, “speechless” is a rare state for him to be in.

Kevin Hartley, left, and his wife, Darcy, are photographed in their home on February 29, 2024, after marrying on Leap Day 28 years prior in the same spot. Photo courtesy: Olympic Plumbing Technology

Kevin’s Health Struggles

Kevin, a United States Navy veteran, foster parent, and lifelong barbershop quartet singer sat down with Olympic Plumbing during the installation and shared that he’s “been fighting cancer for a while now. I’ve got a couple of stage 4 cancers going,” he says.

“Six years ago, they gave him two years to live,” says Darcy, who advocates for and helps with Kevin’s care. “And then about 16 months ago, they gave him two years again. But currently, the cancer is — I can’t say it’s disappearing — but it’s not doing anything,” she says.

“It’s behaving itself,” Kevin says, relieved.

Kevin has always been active, whether it’s singing with his chorus or maintaining his home and yard, and says it’s been hard to be sidelined by his illnesses.

“I’m at the point where it’s just so, so hard to not do anything,” he says. “As long as I just sit and watch TV, I’m fine, but man, just to get up and walk, or try to do any kind of yard work…” He just can’t do it anymore. “It’s so hard because I always did all that stuff.”

“One of the first things to go when you get cancer is your income,” says Darcy, so the financial strain has also been difficult, and prevented the Hartleys from replacing their water heater on their own.

For the past few years, Kevin has been doing what he can to get his estate in order, and told Kimberly, “I just don’t want to leave a money pit.”

Olympic Plumbing feels fortunate to have been able to help Kevin check the water heater off his list.

Kevin Hartley, second from right, performed in March with his Barbershop Quartet Chorus, the Two Town Tuners, out of Centralia. Hartley is looking for additional members to revive an Olympia chapter of barbershop singers. Photo courtesy: Two Town Tuners

How Kevin Remains Positive

“I like to sing barbershop. Quartet or choruses,” Kevin says. “I still do that while I can.”

Right now, he and a few other Olympians sing with a group in Centralia, the Two Town Tuners which is part of the international Barbershop Harmony Society with chapters worldwide. The group performs, competes, and even does singing telegrams, and though Kevin loves singing with this group, he hopes to sing with a group closer to home.

Kevin’s goal is to revive the Olympia chapter. He grew up in a barbershop household and has been singing harmonies since childhood. When asked about singing with his choir, he lights up. He says continuing to sing, with a few modifications, has helped him remain positive throughout his battle with cancer.

“There was a chapter in Olympia, but we haven’t met in several years, and when we lost our director, it just sort of fell apart,” Kevin says. Technically, he’s still the treasurer of the group here in town, though, and would love to get it going again, with us being the state capital and all.

He shares about a time he sang a 15-minute Phantom of the Opera medley in the Rotunda, and though he’s limited to what he can do now after having part of one of his lungs removed, singing is still an important part of his life.

Next Steps

Leap Day was a big day for the Hartley family and Olympic Plumbing, and though it only occurs once every four years, the gift of a new water heater (and a new friendship!) lives on.

Olympic Plumbing holds the BIG Water Heater Giveaway annually, and also offers several other community contests, giveaways and promotions year-round. Sign up for their mailing list here to stay updated and to receive discounts and coupons on plumbing services.

And for all you singers out there, if you or anyone you know is interested in connecting with local barbershoppers, Kevin would love for you to email him at, or try Darcy at

Olympic Plumbing Technology
514 Pattison St NE, Olympia


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