Local man finds hope in frozen dessert business, helping teens after bad car crash

Fate has a way of intervening in life. And it often changes everything.

Kennan Woods thought his fate was set while growing up in Dayton with his mother. Both parents had successful careers – his mother worked for the U.S. Postal Service and eventually moved into human resources with another state job. His father, who was actively involved in his life, pursued a higher education and became a physical therapist.

“I watched my dad pursue higher education and I wanted to go to college,” Woods said.

He attended the Dayton Early College Academy (DECA) and graduated in 2010. DECA encourages all students to not only attend but to aim for graduating from college.

“I ended up going to Central State University to play football,” Woods, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in finance and business administration, said.

Woods saw himself headed for a professional football career after he went to Baltimore to meet Ravens recruiters. Then on July 6, 2016, he was involved in a serious car accident.

“I broke my neck in the accident,” Woods said. “Pretty much everything in my life changed. I had created my identity around football, so I had to learn who Kennan was all over again.”

Woods’ girlfriend broke up with him and he struggled with depression. Though doctors told him the accident should have left him paralyzed or even taken his life, he ended up with a neck brace and was sent home to recover.

“After six weeks, I had healed enough to get out of the brace,” Woods said. “I decided to start applying for jobs again.”

Woods applied for a job as a collections agent at a local bank and was hired. From there he worked his way up to sales and remained with the bank for six years.

Social by nature, Woods found he didn’t like being isolated when the start of the COVID-19 sent everyone home to work remotely. He later decided to resign and focus on a business idea he’d had for a long time.

Before leaving his job, Woods decided to sell everything he owned, including his home. He planned to buy a truck and trailer for the business.

“I quit my job in February of 2022 but wasn’t able to sell my house,” Woods said.

Remarkable Ice, a water ice treat, was born after Woods tried a different type of frozen treat in Camden, New Jersey.

“Water Ice is creamy and smooth like ice cream and flavorful like sorbet,” Woods said.

Woods kept his home and continued to build his business, partnering with a warehouse to store his product and creating his headquarters in his mother’s garage in Dayton.

He sells his treats at local private and public events with the goal of eventually having a store font.

But starting a business isn’t easy. Woods reached out to Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley (GESMV) for help after he left his bank job. He met Michelle Seltz, the director of Miami Valley Works, a program of Goodwill.

“Michelle asked me if I was working or looking for a job,” Woods said. “I signed up for a class on job readiness.”

Woods admits taking this class was a step out of his comfort zone, since he taught classes like this while working for the bank.

“When I taught this class in corporate America, I was looking to fit a mold,” Woods said. “But being in the class as a student with other people changed my perspective.”

Another benefit of the class was the ability to earn a ServeSafe certification for his business, which covers best practices of serving food to the public.

Through his connections with GESMV, Woods found out about a new program – the A.L.L. (Allyship, Lifestyle, Leadership) Club Youth Collaborative – designed for young people ages 14 – 22 who struggle with mental health issues. It is located at the GESMV’s campus in Trotwood.

“A.L.L. Club is a new program that started in February,” said Cindy Carusone, PR/Donations manager at GESMV. “We hired Keenan as the manager in April.”

Carusone said that with the mental health crisis in the nation today, programs like this are especially important. Woods works with local schools and partners to get referrals.

Now keeping busy with his business and his new full-time job, Woods said he is inspired by the young people he meets through the program and is encouraged to continue working hard to achieve his goals. He is engaged and plans to marry Roe Wallace on May 18, 2024.

“When the kids come in, we work with them on how they are feeling that day,” Woods said. “What’s so great is that when they leave, they are happy and energized and everything is positive. It’s the perfect place for me because I get to be who I am naturally.”

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