Chicago, IL – The Chicago Automobile Trade Association (CATA), the Chicago-area’s new-car dealer association, partnered with the USO of Illinois to host Barbecue for the Troops fundraisers for the seventh consecutive year. This summer, 115 local dealerships fired up their grills to host community Barbecue for the Troops events featuring everything from patriotic ceremonies, to classic car shows, live music, games for kids of all ages and, of course, barbecues. The dealerships rallied their communities once again, bringing in more than $146,500 for local military and their families.
“The money that’s raised here, stays here,” said CATA Chairman Bill Haggerty. “CATA dealerships are committed to giving back to their communities, and the USO Barbecue for the Troops initiative is one great example of dealers helping people in need – right in our own backyards!”
Since the program’s inception in 2013, the area’s new-car dealers have raised nearly $900,000 to support USO of Illinois initiatives with more than 600 fundraisers taking place over the course of seven years. These funds enable the USO of Illinois to lend support to more than 326,000 service members and their families annually.
“We are overwhelmed with the amount of support we have seen this year from our partners at the Chicago Automobile Trade Association and the local new-car dealerships,” said USO Midwest Regional President Alison Ruble. “What started as a grassroots effort has now turned into nearly $900,000 in support for our local service members and their families.”
In addition to the community fundraisers, awareness spread via social media. The CATA and USO of Illinois ran a #BBQ4Troops social media contest where people could nominate individuals they deem worthy of winning the Ultimate Backyard Barbecue. Entries poured in throughout the month of July; wives nominated husbands who served overseas, parents nominated children who are active duty military and friends nominated deserving friends and neighbors.
Ultimately, the CATA and USO of Illinois selected Maria Castrellon, who nominated her husband, Javier. In Castrellon’s submission, she noted, “Javier is an example of what a soldier should be; always dedicated to his work but never overshadowing the love he has for his family. After a long day’s work, Javier always manages to find a way to support and encourage his three children, from soccer tournaments to daddy-daughter dances. For more than 20 years, he’s lived this military life moving from one place to another without any regrets.” This summer, Javier and Maria Castrellon will enjoy the Ultimate Backyard Barbecue for 50 family members and friends, complete with mouth-watering barbecue fare from Real Urban Barbecue and a special visit by Chicago Blackhawks Ambassador Chris Chelios.
To celebrate another successful program, CATA board members joined the USO of Illinois onstage at Clark After Dark last week to present their check for $146,500. Clark After Dark is the USO’s annual summer street festival fundraiser, held in the heart of Chicago’sRiver North district. It’s dubbed “Summer’s Last Hoo-ah!”
The CATA and USO of Illinois are already planning for next year. The USO Barbecue for the Troops fundraising events are set to take place at local new-car dealerships on Sat., July 18, 2020.