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The Chicago Automobile Trade Association Receives USO of Illinois Salute to Leadership Award

Chicago-Area Dealers Host Hundreds of USO BBQs for the Troops to Raise $125,000

CHICAGO (Nov. 3, 2014) – The Chicago Automobile Trade Association (CATA), comprised of more than 400  Chicagoland new-car dealers, received the USO of Illinois Salute to Leadership Award during a special award ceremony at the 2014 USO Star Spangled Salute Gala. The USO of Illinois recognized the CATA and its member dealers for their leadership and involvement in the USO Barbecue for the Troops program, a national grassroots fundraising initiative aimed at supporting troops and their families.  

In 2013, the inaugural year of the program, CATA dealer members rallied together to host community events and collectively raised $37,500 – accounting for approximately 40 percent of the total funds raised nationally through this initiative. In 2014, the dealers not only exceeded last year’s fundraising benchmark, but more than doubled that amount elevating this year’s total to approximately $90,000 – totaling more than $125,000 in just two years.

“Because car dealers are, in many cases, family-run businesses with deep roots in their communities, the partnership with the USO of Illinois is a natural fit for our members,” said John Webb, CATA board of director and 2015 Chicago Auto Show chairman. “When the idea was presented to the CATA to host local barbecue fundraisers at dealerships across Chicagoland, we knew we could count on our members to go above and beyond – and that’s exactly what they did.” 

“We are so pleased to present the CATA with the 2014 USO Salute to Leadership Award,” said USO of Illinois President and CEO Alison Ruble. “Through their tremendous support of the USO of Illinois with the Barbecue for the Troops initiative, they have set a shining example of the difference that grassroots, community support can make and represent the appreciation that the American people have for the service and sacrifices of our troops and their families.”

Beyond the USO Barbecue for the Troops initiative, the CATA is committed to supporting both active duty military and veterans year-round. As producer of the Chicago Auto Show, the CATA waives the show entrance fee for active-duty members of the military as a small gesture to thank them for their service. The CATA also ran a recent program called Operation Troop Train to train and hire veterans for careers in local automotive dealerships. 

“Although the U.S. military is the the real hero, we’re beyond humbled to receive the USO Salute to Leadership Award for our active role in supporting our troops,” said CATA Chairman Colin Wickstrom. “We look forward to advancing in our partnership with the USO of Illinois and providing support to local troops through the association’s year-round efforts. This is certainly a cause everyone can rally around.”  

To learn more about the CATA’s involvement in the cause, watch this short video: For more information on the CATA please visit