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80 dealerships raise $160,000 for USO of Illinois programs for vets

August 12, 2016
Officials of the Chicago Automobile Trade Association on Aug. 18 will present to the USO of Illinois a check for $160,000, the amount raised in July by 80 new-car dealerships that hosted Barbecue for the Troops events.
In four Julys, the CATA dealerships have generated about $400,000 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 foursummers, dealers throughout Chicagoland hosted barbecue fundraisers on the same day in July. In its first year, the dealers generated $37,500. 2014’s fundraiser more than doubled the initial campaign, raising $90,000, and efforts in 2015 raised $121,000. The goal this year was to top $150,000.
"I feel very proud and honored to lead this association of dealers," said John Hennessy, 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 80 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 keep surpassing previous fundraising totals. 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 an ultimate backyard BBQ, which includes cooking demonstrations and barbecue fare from Real Urban Barbecue’s head chef; and a special visit from a Chicago Blackhawks ambassador. This year that will be Hall of Famer Tony Esposito. 
More than 100 people submitted contest entries and Rebecca, from Oak Lawn, won with 415 votes. This fall, the CATA will thank her fiancé, a military veteran, by throwing him the ultimate backyard BBQ. 
"Vote 4 my favorite Vet!" Rebecca wrote in her entry. "Not only did he sacrifice for our country but he sacrifices so much every day to take care of me! So deserving!"