skip to main content
article photo


After Four Decades at SONIC, Donna Shelton Continues to Give Back

By Raj Prashad

Four decades after Donna Shelton worked her first shift as a carhop at SONIC Drive-In, it’s easy to see why she remains a community favorite in Ardmore, Oklahoma.

“Giving back and caring for others is part of her everyday routine,” said Angela Owen of the Atwood Group, a SONIC franchisee.

Donna joined SONIC in 1979, when Angela’s father purchased the drive-in on Grand Avenue. Angela, who now oversees restaurant operations, has witnessed firsthand acts of kindness from Donna for the last 40 years.

“Donna does something special at our drive-in almost every day.” Angela Owen, SONIC Franchisee

“Just a couple of weeks ago, she was on her break when a car broke down in the parking lot. So she went over and offered to help the driver. Donna spent her entire break trying to fix the car, and they were able to get it running again,” said Angela.

“For most people, that’s going above and beyond. At this point, it’s normal for Donna. That’s just the kind of person she is.”

While plenty has changed at SONIC over the years, Donna’s infectious smile and caring nature has remained a fixture at the Grand Avenue location.

“One story that really stands out is how she helped one of our team members who was in an accident. The team member has several kids to take care of, needed to run errands, and get to and from work. But she didn’t have a way to get around,” Angela said. “Without giving it a second thought, Donna offered up her car so her co-worker could continue taking care of her family.”

Donna’s passion for helping those in need, whether it’s team members she’s worked with for years or guests she’s never met before, comes to life as a carhop.

“I love what I do,” said Donna. “SONIC looked like a fun place to work back in 1979 and it is still a fun place to work today. I really enjoy meeting new people and hearing the stories of their lives.”

“She would never ask us for anything, but we’d do anything for her.”


“I just can’t imagine Donna not working here. She’s family.” Angela Owen, SONIC Franchisee