CHICAGO (Aug. 16, 2018) - The Chicago Automobile Trade Association (CATA), Chicagoland's new-car dealer association, partnered with USO of Illinois again this summer to host the sixth-annual USO Barbecue for the Troops initiative. This July, a record 115 dealerships rallied their communities to raise a total of $182,000 for local military, and out of the 115 dealerships, 106 hosted fundraising events featuring cookouts, entertainment and family fun. Addison-based Turtle Wax, a new program partner, shares the CATA's mission of helping military and matched the first $25,000 raised at dealerships.
The money collected during the Barbecue for the Troops program helps USO of Illinois serve more than 325,000 active duty, guard and reserve military and military family members annually through three program areas including USO centers, military family programs and community connection programs.
"Local new-car dealers continue to up the ante each year of the USO Barbecue for the Troops program," said CATA Chairman Tony Guido. "While I am awed by its growing success, the fact that the USO Barbecue for the Troops program continues to gain momentum each year doesn't surprise me. As a dealer myself, I know firsthand the impact dealers have within their communities; they rally others like not many can. While it's true dealers compete for business, they put that rivalry aside and band together to achieve a common goal, this time to support the USO of Illinois and local military."
"USO of Illinois salutes all of the Chicagoland new-car dealerships that participated in this year's USO Barbecue for the Troops, as well as the CATA," said USO of Illinois President and CEO Alison Ruble. "Partnerships like USO Barbecue for the Troops allow us to support more than 325,000 service members and their families annually. Today, all of the participating dealerships joined the 'Force Behind the Forces' and that helps keep service members connected to family, home and country throughout their service to the nation."
In addition to the community fundraisers, awareness spread via social media. The CATA and USO of Illinois ran a #BBQ4Troops social media contest where area residents were encouraged to nominate an individual they deem worthy of the Ultimate Backyard Barbecue. Nearly 150 nominations rolled in from social media; wives nominated husbands who served overseas, parents nominated children who are active duty military and friends nominated deserving friends. Ultimately, the CATA and USO of Illinois selected Christa Oody for the grand prize. She nominated her husband, Sergeant James Oody, to win. In Christa's submission, she noted "Like all service members, James sacrificed so much and carries the burden of war." She hoped to win the Ultimate Backyard Barbecue to honor her husband and his military friends who have given so much to their country. This summer, James and Christa will get to enjoy the Ultimate Backyard Barbecue complete with mouth-watering barbecue fare from Real Urban Barbecue, a special visit from Chicago Blackhawks alum Brian Campbell and will receive a Rookie Racing Experience, compliments of Turtle Wax.
To celebrate another successful program, CATA participating dealers will join USO of Illinois onstage at Clark After Dark this evening to present the final check for $182,000 from the 2018 Barbecue for the Troops program. Clark After Dark is a popular street festival for Chicagoans that offers a night of fun in the heart of Chicago's River North district with an opportunity to support the troops. It's dubbed "Summer's Last Hoo-ah!"
As the USO Barbecue for the Troops program continues to grow each year in terms of funds raised, heightened dealer participation and overall community awareness, the CATA and USO of Illinois are already planning for 2019. Next summer, the official Barbecue for the Troops fundraising events will be held at local new-car dealerships on Sat., July 13, 2019.