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70 dealerships raise $121,000 for USO of Illinois programs

August 28, 2015
Officials of the Chicago Automobile Trade Association on Aug. 20 presented to the USO of Illinois a check for $121,000, the amount raised in July by 70 new-car dealerships that hosted Barbecue for the Troops events.
In three Julys, the CATA dealerships have generated about $250,000 for USO programs that support deployed troops, military families, wounded, ill and injured troops and their caregivers, and families of the fallen.
In each of the past three summers, dealers throughout Chicagoland hosted barbecue fundraisers on the same day in July. In its first year, the dealers generated $37,500. Last year’s fundraiser more than doubled the initial effort, raising $90,000. The goal this year was to top $100,000.
"I feel very proud and honored to lead this association of dealers," said Mike McGrath Jr., CATA chairman. "As a dealer myself, I have a huge sense of pride as I know firsthand the hard work that goes into coordinating these events. We had 70 dealers leading the charge and rallying their individual communities to raise funds and awareness for Illinois troops. 
"It does not at all surprise me that CATA dealers far surpassed the fundraising goal from last year. What some might not recognize is that dealers are already deeply rooted within their communities and constantly strive to make a difference. The CATA’s partnership with the USO of Illinois is a natural fit and a cause that dealers can appreciate and, demonstrably, fully support." 
Alison Ruble, the president and chief executive of USO of Illinois, said the money raised by the dealerships will deliver care and comfort to the more than 330,000 military and military families that the agency serves annually.
To help raise awareness of the dealership fundraisers, the CATA coordinated a social media contest using the hashtag #BBQ4Troops. The contest grand prize was the Ultimate Backyard BBQ, which includes cooking demonstrations and barbecue fare from Real Urban Barbecue’s head chef; a special visit from a Chicago Blackhawks ambassador; and a grill from Big Green Egg Chicago. 
More than 100 people submitted contest entries and Kathy C., from Oswego, won with 67 percent of the votes. In September, the CATA will thank her nephew, an active military member, by throwing him the Ultimate Backyard BBQ. The day will mark the first time in a while that he will be reunited with family and friends before being deployed next month. 
Plans for next year’s Barbecue for the Troops, on July 16, 2016, are underway.