TRAVERSE CITY — Saying ‘thank you’ didn’t seem like enough.

The chance to surprise his boss a little bit made it even better.

Physical therapy assistant Dan Tanis, a sergeant in the United States Army Reserves, nominated Superior Physical Therapy owner Dr. Andrew Gorecki for the Patriot Award.

A little more than 100 are awarded by Employer Support of The Guard and Reserve annually in Michigan for “efforts made to support citizen warriors through a wide-range of measures including flexible schedules, time off prior to and after deployment, caring for families and granting leaves of absence if needed.”

“It was a better way to say thank you for dealing with my schedule,” said Tanis, a physical therapy assistant. “It was a better way to show my appreciation — and embarrass Andrew.”

Gorecki did not see the honor coming. He was presented with the plaque at an early-afternoon staff meeting.

“It worked,” said Christine Keenan, volunteer for ESGR. “He was surprised.”

“I was,” Gorecki said. “We were having a retirement party for a former office manager at that time. I was all prepared for that mentally.”

While surprises don’t necessarily go along with his personality, Gorecki said he will be OK with this one. He added the certificate should go to everyone in the business, which operates at 3899 W. Front St. and 722 Munson Ave.

“I thought it was pretty cool,” Gorecki said. “I don’t like them, but it was pretty neat.”

A Muskegon native, Tanis joined Superior Physical Therapy in the summer of 2016, working out of the Front Street location. He took 8-10 months off while attending Northwestern Michigan College as a pre-requisite for Physical Therapy school.

“I’m waiting for the application process to unfold,” Tanis said.

He returned in the spring of 2019 and is working out of the Munson Avenue office.

“He filled an opening and a need around here,” said Dr. Ben Fuson, who was in on Gorecki’s surprise and seemed to enjoy it.

Tanis joined the Army in February 2010 and did his basic training in Fort Benning, Georgia. Tanis did a nine-month deployment in Kuwait and has been back in the states since 2013.

Tanis is a member of the 321st Psychological Operations Company, which is under the umbrella of special operations. His unit often demands more than a typical unit in the Reserves.

“It’s more than a weekend a month,” he said. “That’s why I’m so appreciative.”

Keenan said the Patriot Award is the fourth presentation she has done to a Traverse City company in the last 18 months. About 10,000 are presented annually every year.

“This company has been nothing but supportive in obligations to the Army as well as my pursuits to further my career in the Army by volunteering for additional duty courses, Joint Multinational Readiness Center training rotations and additional schooling,” Tanis said in his nomination. “I never felt like a burden to the company and they make me truly feel like an asset to the team. They have allowed me an altered work schedule which better fits around my drill schedule.”

Tanis is scheduled to leave Superior Physical Therapy again to attend PT School through Baylor University in San Antonio. It’s a 27-month intensive program.

“They are efficient in the Army,” Fuson said. “It’s normally 36 months.”

After graduation, Tanis has to fulfill a 50-month contract with the Army. Tanis said he would love to return to Superior Physical Therapy in the future.

Gorecki and Fuson said Tanis is always welcome.

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