South Whidbey Record


‘Not your typical girl’ | South Whidbey resident featured in national beer advertising campaign for hard work, dedication

South Whidbey Record General assignment
February 20, 2014 · Updated 1:13 PM

Jacqueline Gabelein works on a road improvement project on Possession Road for Island County. Gabelein is recognized in a national campaign for Anheuser-Busch called “Busch Heroes” for her hard work and community involvement. / Celeste Erickson / The Record

Jacqueline Gabelein is awake and leaving for the gym by 3:45 a.m. She trains for an hour and is back at her home by 5:30 a.m. to get started on her chores, starting the fire and packing lunches.

This is a typical morning for Gabelein, 39, who continues her day working as an equipment operator for Island County, then comes home to make dinner and help her daughter with school work.

Not a minute is spared in Gabelein’s life, but that’s almost commonplace for her.

“It’s always how I’ve been raised,” she said. “ ‘You’ve got to earn it.’ I always remember hearing that as a child.”

This philosophy of hard work and dedication caught the attention of representatives at Anheuser-Busch. She was chosen as one of eight people to be featured in a national advertising campaign.

The campaign, called Busch Heroes, highlights individuals from around the nation, selected for their hard work at their job and dedication in their community.

Each person and their story is featured on special-edition beer packaging, print ads, commercials and even a billboard.

The slogan, “Here’s to earning it,” is something that resonates with Gabelein.

“Earning it means you’re not afraid to roll up your sleeves and get dirty and give 110 percent,” she said. “Nothing in life is given, you’ve gotta show up.”

Gabelein was born and raised on South Whidbey. Now, the Langley resident has a family of her own with daughters Kenzie, 7, and Cortney, 19; her husband Michael and stepdaughter Ashley, 18.

She began working for the county right out of high school as a flagger. She moved up from that position to a laborer, truck driver and now, 21 years later, as an equipment operator and lead oiler.

“She’s not your typical girl,” longtime friend and Clinton resident Tracy Schwiger said. “She’s more mechanically inclined.”

Schwiger has known Gabelein throughout their lives, but became good friends in ’99 when their daughters became friends at school. Gabelein is a “jack-of-all trades” in Schwiger’s words.

“It you don’t know something, she does,” she said of Gabelein. “She’s a good friend.”

Their latest venture is installing new wood flooring in Schwiger’s home — Gabelein’s idea. And she also is helping install it, “because that’s the kind of person she is,” Schwiger said.

Gabelein is always pushing her to try new things as well, she said. Schwiger remembers being coaxed into floating the Yakima River for the first time

“I’m Chicken Little. She’s not,” she stated simply.

Gabelein finally got her to do it and Schwiger said she had a blast.

“She’s definitely got adventure in her.”

When Gabelein is not working, she keeps busy helping her family cut hay in the summer.

She and her husband also compete in antique tractor pulling as a hobby. And she’s pretty good; two years ago she won a first place trophy in a national competition.

On top of work and home life, Gabelein is training for the The Big Climb, a Seattle fundraiser to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, a group dedicated to helping cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease, myeloma, and to help improve the quality of life of patients and their families. The challenge includes 1,311 steps over 69 flights of stairs at the Columbia Center, the tallest skyscraper in Seattle.

This is her third year participating in the event. Last year she completed the climb in about 15 minutes and 30 seconds. This year she hopes to beat that by 30 seconds, coming in at 15 minutes flat.

Even with a busy schedule, Gabelein said being a hard worker means you have to go above and beyond the call of duty by volunteering and donating time to the community.

For her, the Busch campaign has been a whirlwind from the 12-hour-long promotional shoot to the socials she’s had with the other “heroes” in the campaign, who she has become good friends with. Immediately, it felt like they were family, she said.

“We are all very similar,” she said. “Sitting around, it was like we had already known each other.”

Gabelein said as she looks back at her life during this campaign, she’s proud to be achieving her goals.

“It’s kind of crazy [to be featured] for something that’s my job,” she said. “I’m here to work hard. And with extra time I want to give back — that’s what I need to do.”


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