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Record One-hundred Chicagoland New-car Dealers Raise $143,000 for the USO of Illinois in Fifth-annual Barbecue for the Troops Program

The Chicago Automobile Trade Association (CATA), Chicagoland’s new-car dealer association, partnered with the USO of Illinois for the fifth consecutive year of “Barbecue for the Troops.” On Sat., July 15, a record 100 local car dealerships, spanning 50 different communities, fired up their grills to host Barbecue for the Troops fundraisers in support of the USO of Illinois. This year alone, the campaign generated $143,000 locally. Since the program’s inception in 2013, the dealers’ grassroots events have brought in more than $560,000 for local troops and their families.

“Even beyond the funds raised, which is unequivocally important, each year the dealers pour their hearts, souls and personal resources into making each individual community event unique and special,” said CATA Chairman Ray Scarpelli Jr. “Past events have included everything from patriotic ceremonies with a 21-gun salute, classic car shows involving local car clubs, live bands, giant inflatable bounce houses for kids, face painting, balloon-making, dog washes and, of course, barbecue – all to draw the interest of the community and bring crowds out on a summer Saturday to support the USO of Illinois.”

The CATA and participating dealers will join the USO of Illinois onstage at Clark After Dark for a formal 2017 USO Barbecue for the Troops program check presentation. The USO of Illinois’ ninth annual Clark After Dark, held the evening of Thursday, Aug. 17, 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.

“I believe this is the year that we’ve reached the tipping point,” continued Scarpelli. “More and more, people recognize the fact that new-car dealers are the pillars of their communities and are well-positioned to bring together their neighbors in support of this amazing cause like not many can. We’re thrilled with the participation and support this year, and look forward to partnering with the USO of Illinois to help serve our troops for many years to come.”

The money collected during the Barbecue for the Troops program helps the USO of Illinois serve more than 318,000 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. 

“The USO prides itself on being the ‘force behind the forces’ by keeping our service members connected to family, home and country throughout their service to the nation,” said USO of Illinois President and CEO Alison Ruble. “It is only with partnerships like the Barbecue for the Troops initiative with the CATA and local new-car dealers that the USO is able to support our service members. The USO of Illinois is very grateful to the CATA for their continued leadership and generous support that enables us to stay connected with more than 318,000 military and military families every year.”

Ruble added, “Thanks in part to the 100 local new-car dealers that have participated over the last five years, we are able to continue delivering programs and services to our service members that provide care and comfort, and send an important message that the American people appreciate their service and sacrifices.”

As the USO Barbecue for the Troops program continues to grow each year with heightened dealer participation and community awareness, the CATA and the USO of Illinois are already gearing up for 2018. Next summer, the official Barbecue for the Troops events will be held at local dealerships on Sat., July 14, 2018.

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