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New-car dealers benefit cancer kids and veterans organizations

November 15, 2010

Funding for those who need help knows no times of economic upswings or downturns, and in today’s challenging conditions, the Chicago Automobile Trade Association’s "Chicagoland Dealers Care" progam has again found worthy causes to help its dealer members make a difference in their communities.

Make Your Mark—The Mark Staehely Pediatric Cancer Foundation

In 2000, 12-year-old Mark Staehely was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma, a rare pediatric cancer. Over the next six years he endured three surgeries, stem cell replacement and endless rounds of chemo and radiation therapy, as well as countless blood and platelet transfusions.

He spent every day making the most of the time he had, with his positive attitude the driving force in his survival.

After dealing with missed holidays and the heartbreak of a prolonged hospitalization, Staehely took it upon himself to collect toys, movies and video games for others who also were hospitalized.

"His story was so moving," said Jeff Johnson of D’Arcy Buick-Pontiac-GMC in Joliet. "We wanted to help memorialize the spirit of this brave young man’s efforts. Our business contribution was matched by Chicagoland Dealers Care, resulting in a $3,000 donation to Make Your Mark—The Mark Staehely Pediatric Cancer Foundation.

John Phelan, CATA chairman, said: "We see our dealers reaching to their pockets to help in a time when it would be perfectly understandable for them to scale back their efforts. "But these are dealers who have long-term investments in their communities and, where there’s a will, they find a way. We congratulate the D’Arcy team for bringing this organization to us to match their own generosity."

To honor his memory for efforts while facing his disease, Mark Staehely was presented the Red Cross Hometown Hero Award in 2005. His efforts also were honored by Children’s Memorial Hospital with its highest accolade, the George D. Kennedy Leadership Award. Without any corporate sponsorship, the 2005 toy drive was the largest individual event of its kind in Children’s Memorial Hospital history.

"Mark’s program deserves to live on," said Phelan. "We’re pleased that we’ve been able to be a part of achieving his dream."

Transitional Living Services

Chicagoland Dealers Care also joined forces with Raymond Benoy of Benoy Motor Sales in Woodstock to benefit the needs of veterans returning from service with the challenges of post-hospital rehabilitation and living.

Transitional Living Services is a not-for-profit corporation formed by veterans who recognized the needs of homeless veterans and their families.

"As a country, we have a responsibility to step up and address the needs of vets who have been wounded in battle and suffer the mental scars that come with it," said Benoy. "The TLS organization, through a partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, provides housing, guidance, assistance and hope for these special people."

Said Mark Scarpelli, a CATA director: "Raymond Benoy’s generosity in conjunction with our Chicagoland Dealers Care funds not only will contribute to the overall effort, but will also bring additional visibility to the mission. We hope that in  addition to our joint contribution, others will become aware of TLS and find it worthy of writing a check of their own."

Benoy asked: "What more honorable thing to do is there than serve and protect our country? These brave men and women were the guardians of all we hold dear. When we support them in their time of need, it’s the right thing to do."

Chicagoland Dealers Care is a program of the CATA’s First Look for Charity Foundation, with a mission to build upon the charitable efforts of CATA’s new-car dealers in their local communities.

New-car dealers already perform vital support of community charities; this program is designed to enhance that support. Dealer members may apply to the CATA for matching grants for contributions to local charities.