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Harv Craven

Keith Family

SOBC Supporter Courtney Keith

The 2013 Special Olympics BC Summer Games provided a demonstration not only of the power of Special Olympics, but also of the many and varied ways in which the Keith family generously supports SOBC.

Owners and leaders of the Dueck Auto Group, the whole Keith family shows remarkable dedication to helping Special Olympics athletes.

Pamela Keith is a true champion of Special Olympics as Chair of SOBC’s Board of Directors, and has been a member of the Board since 2005. She was visible throughout the Provincial Games from start to finish in her Chair role, from kicking off the Games at the Opening Ceremonies to presenting medals at events and attending the volunteer breakfast on the very last day to recognize and thank the many people who helped make the Games a success.

She also went above and beyond in serving as the announcer for the rhythmic gymnastics events, spending two full days introducing all of the performers as they delivered their routines. She took the time to ask each rhythmic gymnast for the correct pronunciation of her name, making them feel like stars.

Daughter Courtney Keith also generously gave her time to the Games as a Region 4 coach. An SOBC – Delta rhythmic gymnastics coach, Courtney led her athletes through their exciting competitions, celebrated their achievements, and supported them throughout the Games experience. Helping them give their best in their performances and enjoying the Opening and Closing Ceremonies alongside them, Courtney was there for her athletes every step of the way.

Dueck Auto Group President Moray Keith was also a welcome presence at the Games, and the Keith family and Dueck Auto Group help SOBC athletes and programs year-round with their generous support of events ranging from the New Car Dealers Foundation of B.C./Special Olympics BC Auction to the Goldcorp Invitational Golf Tournament. Son Gregory, Vice President and General Manager at Dueck Richmond, also gives his time to help SOBC as a valued member of the organizing committee for the tournament, which is another key fundraiser for SOBC.

The Keith family truly does it all in support of SOBC, playing a significant part in making inspiring and empowering events like the Provincial Games possible. Pam Keith said she saw the Games as a strong success.

“I think the 2013 SOBC Summer Games was a great success. The athletes and volunteer coaches were so inspiring both on and off the playing fields, and we so appreciated the 1,200 volunteers who worked so hard to deliver such a rewarding and memorable experience for everyone,” she said.

“I was also really pleased to see how many Games volunteers came up to me afterward to ask how they can continue being involved with Special Olympics. In addition to being an amazing experience in itself, I think this Games will leave a great legacy of appreciation and awareness for Special Olympics.”

SOBC Supporter Courtney Keith

Courtney Keith (left) with medal-winning rhythmic gymnasts at the 2013 Special Olympics BC Summer Games

Tom Harris

SOBC Supporter Tom Harris

As a lifelong car dealer and longtime volunteer with industry and community causes, Tom Harris has given generously both in financial support and time over the years, and still finds it rewarding to help Special Olympics BC.

“What I see is an organization that is totally devoted to what they do, to providing a fun, competitive meaningful set of activities for people with intellectual disabilities. They joy that I see on the athletes’ faces when they get to compete, and the joy I see on the faces of the people helping them make this all possible, gives me a great feeling,” Harris says.

President of the Tom Harris Group and a second-generation car dealer, Harris was a longtime member of the New Car Dealers Association of BC executive committee and has been involved for many years with the committee that steers what is now the New Car Dealers Foundation of BC / Special Olympics Auction. He was involved when the event took the form of an annual gala held in Vancouver, and helped lead the transition into the catalogue-based auction it is today.

The move to becoming a catalogue auction better demonstrated the generosity of Dealers and donors and showed the province-wide spread, more accurately reflecting the membership base. Harris said he has been thrilled to see the successful results. The Auction now annually attracts more than 200 donated items and each year draws more bidders from all corners of the province. The funds raised continue to grow every year.

“It’s a real credit to the Dealers, to all the people who donate, to the committee, and the people from SOBC who have been so actively involved. It’s a group effort that has turned out to be a real winner,” he says. “At the end of the day the money all goes to the athletes, which is what I like – what we all like.”

Harris says it’s a “great experience” to work with the Auction committee, and feels the model of this strong event is something often copied but never successfully replicated.

“With the leadership from the committee and from SOBC, we’ve got something here that’s very unique,” Harris says. “It’s something we should all be proud of.”

The Harris Auto Group is now comprised of Harris Mitsubishi, Harris Kia, and Harris Mazda in Nanaimo, Harris Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Victoria, and Harris Oceanside Chevrolet GMC in Parksville. Harris also has Tom Harris Cellular, the largest TELUS dealer in Canada, and has a multitude of partners in different organizations.

Along the way, Harris has served on the executive committees of both the provincial and national New Car Dealers associations, and contributed significantly to a number of charitable causes both with time and fundraising support.

“It has been very rewarding. I’ve certainly enjoyed the time I’ve spent doing what I’ve done, and reflecting on the contributions I’ve been able to make along with my employees and fellow Dealers and partners,” Harris says.

Now his family’s third generation of car dealers is following in his footsteps. Eldest son Mike is the Dealer Principal of Harris Oceanside Chevrolet GMC and his partner in several different businesses, including the Mazda and Oceanside GM dealerships; Mike Harris has served on the Board of Directors of New Car Dealers Association of BC and the New Car Dealers Foundation of BC for a number of years. Younger son Tony is the Dealer Principal at Harris Mitsubishi and serves in a number of other roles. The businesses continue to grow and thrive with the third generation involved.

“It’s a good feeling,” Harris says.

SOBC Supporter Tom Harris

Peter Heppner

SOBC Supporter Peter Heppner

When the 2013 Special Olympics BC Summer Games was set to be held in Langley, Peter Heppner, General Manager and Dealer Principal of Preston Chevrolet Buick GMC Cadillac Ltd., viewed it as a natural fit for his dealership to offer their support.

In addition to the ongoing vital support from B.C.’s New Car Dealers that helped Special Olympics BC host the Provincial Games, Heppner and his dealership stepped up to provide vehicles so Games organizers and team leaders could travel between the venues around Langley, and helped spread the word in the community to recruit volunteers and spectators to provide critical support for the athletes.

“We consider ourselves very much a community dealer, and this is our community. It was our pleasure to assist,” Heppner said.

Heppner views Special Olympics as a “very, very good cause” and a good fit for his dealership as the longtime chosen charity of the New Car Dealers Association of B.C. and of the B.C. GM Dealers. He believes in what Special Olympics does, seeing the value and benefits that are derived by the participants.

“I think there are huge benefits for anybody to participate in organized sports,” Heppner said. As he watched the Opening Ceremonies of the 2013 SOBC Summer Games, he saw the proof of the value of Special Olympics and all that the New Car Dealers’ support helps bring to life.

“As we watched the teams parade into the arena, you could see the absolute joy on their faces to be part of this big event, an important part,” he said. “You can just tell the sense of self-worth they felt, and the benefits of the self-esteem.” Heppner also observed how caring SOBC volunteers are with the athletes, providing an empowering environment of genuine support and encouragement.

Heppner came to Langley in 2006 from Alberta, where Special Olympics is also the long-standing chosen charity for the province’s Motor Dealers’ Association, so he was already very familiar with the movement. He moved into the Preston dealership that had a tradition of charitable generosity thanks to the legacy of George Preston, whom Heppner describes as “perhaps one of the most charitable and community-minded car dealers I’ve ever met,” so they are doing their best to continue his legacy.

“We’re all very proud of the work the New Car Dealers Association does on behalf of all the dealers, and Pam Keith has done a wonderful job of leading the fundraising efforts for SOBC,” Heppner said.

SOBC Supporter Peter Heppner

Manse Binkley

SOBC Supporter Manse Binkley

Manse Binkley, President of Harmony Honda & Harmony Acura, has provided remarkable support to Special Olympics BC through New Car Dealers Foundation of BC/Special Olympics Auction for more than 12 years, and he values the confidence and self-assurance displayed by Special Olympics athletes.

“The end result for some of [the athletes] is quite magnificent to watch,” Binkley says. “I’ve always been quite moved by how [athlete speakers] have handled themselves and how they’ve presented things.”

Feeling that life has been good to him, Binkley is motivated to help others who might not have been quite as fortunate in their breaks in life. In addition to contributing widely to charitable causes in and around Kelowna, he has become a key supporter of the New Car Dealers Foundation of B.C./Special Olympics Auction over the last decade and more, particularly as a champion of recruiting auction items in the Interior and giving generously himself.

Binkley started the B.C. portion of his career with Don Folk Chevrolet in 1991, and it was Folk who first introduced him to the idea of the auction, causing him to make inquiries and be drawn into the cause. Binkley says the auction is “a unique thing in the way it operates and runs,” and he enjoys its setup as well as the SOBC organization.

Binkley comes from a long family auto dealer tradition, and he took over his father’s dealership in Brandon, Manitoba. After starting the Kelowna phase of his career, he took over Folk’s Honda dealership in 1991 and renamed it Harmony Honda based on a staff idea contest.

He observes that most car dealers are good corporate citizens who are well connected in their local communities and like to share. He and his wife are active in supporting a range of causes in the Kelowna area, from the Canadian Red Cross and the United Way to Kelowna General Hospital and the local university and Okanagan College.

“Whenever we think there’s a good need we try to help out a little bit,” Binkley says.

SOBC Supporter Manse Binkley

NCDA Staff

SOBC Supporter New Car Dealers Association Of BC

For the last three decades, the New Car Dealers Association of BC have connected with Special Olympics BC athletes, and the association staff members have pursued many and varied ways to support the athletes and help them succeed in their sports and in life.

Like the New Car Dealers they represent, the association staff generously commit themselves to raising funds and awareness for Special Olympics, and go above and beyond in finding other ways to help athletes around the province.

Supporting Special Olympics BC is one of the two primary charitable endeavours of the New Car Dealers Foundation of BC, along with supporting education for those wishing to enter or advance within the industry. New Car Dealers are truly community minded, focused on the places where they’ve built their businesses and on giving back. Supporting Special Olympics has been a powerful and rewarding way to do that, says New Car Dealers Association of BC President and CEO Blair Qualey.

Whenever there is the opportunity to bring New Car Dealers Board of Directors members and Special Olympics athletes together, “everyone always walks away feeling totally inspired, often with tears in their eyes,” Qualey says. “It’s happened many times at our Board meetings. … We are very fortunate to work with such a group of people who work so hard, who come back from so many challenges.”

The 30-year relationship between Special Olympics and B.C.’s New Car Dealers has seen Dealers raise and donate more than $4.2 million, helping Special Olympics BC grow from two weekends of games with about 500 participants to involving more than 4,300 athletes with intellectual disabilities in year-round programs in 18 sports and youth programs in 57 communities around the province. It has helped change the lives of thousands of athletes and, in turn, the lives of everyone they touch.

The New Car Dealers Association staff help power the annual New Car Dealers Foundation of BC / Special Olympics Auction, now a successful online enterprise, and help raise awareness about Special Olympics and show Dealers the power of their support by featuring athletes at their events such as the Vancouver International Auto Show Preview Gala and annual convention. And they generously look for wide-ranging ways to provide additional opportunities, ranging from sharing Special Olympics stories in Signals and their e-newsletters to giving local Special Olympics athletes the chance to attend a Chilliwack Chiefs game with them when they had the chance to host a box at a recent game. These examples are just a few of many.

“We just want to make sure all of our members get to find out what Special Olympics is all about,” Qualey says. “We always take the opportunity at the gala at our Auto Show to reinforce the relationship. … We consider ourselves part of the Special Olympics family and you are a part of ours.”

They’ve been inspired by many of the moments they’ve had with Special Olympics athletes over the years, like hearing athletes such as Michaela Robinson and Matthew Williams share their stories, and watching teams of athletes from across the country walking with such pride and excitement into the Opening Ceremony of the Special Olympics Canada 2014 Summer Games, which the New Car Dealers supported with generous vehicle donations and assistance.

Qualey says the New Car Dealers Association staff are inspired both by the Special Olympics athletes and the hardworking and community-minded New Car Dealers. Dealers develop such strong relationships with their customers and communities, and do so much to participate and help out the worthwhile organizations and charities in their communities that sometimes need support. Much of it happens out of the spotlight.

“Many of our Dealers do so many things in the community that nobody hears about. They’re very humble, they don’t want to make a big fuss about it, [but] it’s important to who they are and their personal and business strategies,” Qualey says. “They inspire us because they’re such great business people and such community leaders.”

John Wynia

SOBC Supporter John Wynia

Chair of the New Car Dealers Foundation of BC and a long-standing supporter of Special Olympics BC, Harbourview Volkswagen Dealer Principal John Wynia has been involved with sport for his whole life.

Having seen what sport experiences bring into lives and the impact on communities, he believes sincerely in what Special Olympics is all about and feels it’s “really inspirational” to watch the athletes set goals, strive to challenges themselves, and grow.

“The motivation [to be involved with SOBC] is the actual process Special Olympics has done to attract people who have this need to join a social group that has athletic aspirations, and trying to achieve and measure their successes with their own peers … and be healthier citizens of their communities,” Wynia says.

Wynia has been involved with SOBC for 15 years, generously giving both of his time and support as a member of the New Car Dealers Foundation of B.C./Special Olympics Auction committee, and as a sponsor of SOBC events such as the Goldcorp Invitational Golf Tournament, where Harbourview Volkswagen has been a Hole in One Sponsor for the past three years.

As a Volkswagen dealer for 30 years, Wynia sees great value in the New Car Dealers Association’s support of Special Olympics, giving recognition for the dealer community around the province being affiliated with a major charity, and helping smaller dealers such as himself to have a stronger identity.

He says he has enjoyed his many years of involvement with the auction, the significant fundraiser that last year raised more than $165,000 for the foundation and SOBC.

“I appreciated the efforts that went on, the products and offerings that were made in the auction. It’s very successful, in my mind, and it’s fun!” Wynia says. “The auction is amazingly fun – it makes you feel good when you’re involved with it, and it’s a way of spreading the message to anyone who isn’t involved.”

Wynia notes the amazing support that dealers around the province give to charities, both to Special Olympics with the association and to individual causes in their communities.

“The New Car Dealers historically are probably the most generous business group there is anywhere in Canada,” he notes. “They are always prepared to step up and write the cheque. They don’t promise; they do it.”

Now he’s looking across the border to the support that Alberta’s dealers also to Special Olympics, seeing an opportunity for a good-natured challenge. In 2012, the Motor Dealers’ Association of Alberta presented a $250,012 cheque to Special Olympics Alberta, and Wynia would like to see B.C. go even farther in support of Special Olympics.

He encourages dealers to register when the auction opens in May, and to have some fun bidding each other up on items in support of the worthy causes. “They’ll understand how much fun it is!”

John Wynia with SOBC Vancouver athletes Annabelle, Ken, and Peter at the 2013 Vancouver International Auto Show Preview Gala

John Chesman

SOBC Supporter John Chesman

As a longtime supporter of Special Olympics and Vice Chairman of the New Car Dealers Association of BC, John Chesman has been moved by the stories and abilities of Special Olympics BC athletes.

“I can’t imagine listening to any other speaker who would be more moving than those people are. They’re just incredible,” Chesman says.

Chesman, the General Manager of MCL Motor Cars before retiring after 21 years, is a long-standing and generous member of the New Car Dealers Foundation of B.C./Special Olympics BC Auction Committee. He provides unstinting support with his committee work, generous donations and bids on items, and willingness to encourage others to get involved.

In addition to his efforts with the auction, Chesman is a genuine supporter of Special Olympics athletes who constantly looks for new ways to help SOBC. He frequently proposes new ideas and partnerships, connects SOBC with his contacts, and energizes others to help the cause, all for the benefit of Special Olympics athletes and programs. The creation of the MCL Motor Cars Rally for Champions fundraiser for SOBC is one example of many ideas and initiatives Chesman has championed over the years to help Special Olympics.

Having seen SOBC athletes speak at events and impress significant crowds, Chesman has been impressed by their courage and notes the confidence and pride they gain with Special Olympics.

“It’s huge. You give [the athletes] an opportunity, No. 1, and through sports you can get an awful lot of confidence and camaraderie and start to feel good about themselves,” he says.

Chesman points out the important benefits derived by all who participate in team sports; when hiring staff, he says, he always looked for people who have been involved in team sports because they learn to sacrifice for teammates and put the group ahead of themselves.

After serving as a Vice President for the Vancouver Canucks for many years, Chesman stepped into the New Car Dealer community by joining Jim Pattison Automotive in 1989, and moved to MCL Motor Cars in 1992.

Chesman and MCL Motor Cars are very involved in the community, generously supporting causes ranging from Special Olympics to the arts. Chesman says his aim was to stage events that would involve existing customers and attract new ones while helping charities.

“I think it’s an unbelievably good organization,” Chesman says of Special Olympics.

John Chesman and SOBC athlete Annabelle Davis at the Vancouver International Auto Show Preview Gala in 2011

Joe Mitchell

SOBC Supporter Joe Mitchell

Joe Mitchell doesn’t do anything halfway, and Special Olympics BC athletes and programs have been fortunate to benefit from his great energy.

Chairman of the Carter Auto Group, Mitchell has been supporting SOBC for 29 years, serving as a driving force in the New Car Dealers Foundation of B.C./Special Olympics Auction and helping build SOBC’s largest endowment fund.

Mitchell sees that Special Olympics makes every athlete feel like a winner, and values being part of the positive experiences.

“You very seldom see any less than a smile on [the athletes’] faces, and when you see them in motion it’s incredible,” he says. “When you know you’re a little part of helping them, it makes you feel pretty good about it all.”

Howard Carter, Mitchell’s friend and business partner, invited him to get involved in the cause 29 years ago, and Mitchell responded wholeheartedly. He has demonstrated impactful and long-standing leadership with the auction throughout the years, having served as Chair of the auction committee and working hard and generously in everything from item and cash donation solicitation to purchasing items himself.

Mitchell has successfully drawn in appreciated cash donors, including First Canadian Insurance Group, who began their involvement with a cash donation of $1,000. Mitchell worked with them to increase their contribution by $1,000 each year, and they now generously give $20,000 each year through the auction.

Mitchell has also supported SOBC as a key champion of the Howard Carter Fund to continue Carter’s legacy of passion and support for Special Olympics, and that fund now has nearly $700,000. This year he was awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of his dedicated fundraising efforts for SOBC.

Mitchell feels he wants to give back to the community, having achieved success in his life, and he and the Carter Group believe in doing a lot in the community. He and his wife also contribute to other worthy causes such as Richmond Hospital, as he is a 75-year resident of Richmond. When Mitchell is encouraging other dealers to donate to the auction, he asks them to give whatever they can, no matter how much, to share in the feeling of being part of such a good cause. He sends a personal note of thanks to each donor.

“When you raise money for a charity like this, you get a pretty good feeling inside,” Mitchell says.

Joachim Neumann

SOBC Supporter Joachim Neumann

Joachim Neumann, founder and President of Auto West BMW and the Auto West Group, is an important figure in the beginning and growth of the New Car Dealers Foundation of BC/Special Olympics BC Auction, and continues to provide generous support for the benefit of the charities.

Neumann gave his time and support as one of the first Chairs of the auction’s organizing committee, and he recalls a great deal of fun during the early years with the auction staged as a live evening affair in Vancouver. The event would receive “so much support from the dealer community. It was a beautiful evening,” Neumann says.

He and the committee were dedicated to ensuring the success of the event to benefit Special Olympics BC, working on everything from donations to ensuring bidding went well on the night. In subsequent years, the auction transitioned into its current online format, providing a way of improving the reach of the event and involving more dealers from around the province, Neumann says. He has generously remained involved as an ongoing supporter of the auction.

Neumann became involved with the New Car Dealers Association of B.C. early in his career, thinking it important for everyone to give their time to support their industry organization, and seeking to learn from the mentors and pioneers of the industry who are also involved in the association.

Neumann has been part of the industry since 1974, beginning in wholesale with his father’s BMW importation business. In 1986, he stepped into the sales side for the first time when opening the Auto West BMW franchise in Richmond, at which point he joined the New Car Dealers Association and came to learn a great deal from the industry veterans in the community and his work with the organization. “It was a big gift,” he says.

After the New Car Dealers Foundation of B.C. was founded, Neumann served as President for many years. He feels the association’s relationship with SOBC shows how important dealers can be in communities with their reach of resources and manpower. Auto West BMW gives back to their community by supporting causes such as Special Olympics and the BC Children’s Hospital; Neumann says they are glad to contribute to Special Olympics as a worthy cause and to align with what the association is doing.

“It’s a part of the community that needs special support so these individuals are not forgotten,” Neumann says. He observes the value in Special Olympics giving individuals with intellectual disabilities the chance to participate in sport and enjoy the benefits, and providing support to deserving families.

Jim Inkster

SOBC Supporter Jim Inkster

Throughout his 41 years in the chair as a Chrysler dealer, New Car Dealers Association of BC Chairman Jim Inkster and his Inland Chrysler dealership contributed to a wide range of community endeavours, and Special Olympics BC is grateful to be among those fortunate to benefit from his generosity.

Inkster, now in his third year as New Car Dealers Association Chairman, has been quick to support Special Olympics through the association over the years whenever called on for support.

The most recent example of many was evident at the New Car Dealers Association conference in Whistler, where Inkster entered into a friendly bidding war over a Raymond Weil watch, won it, and immediately donated it to SOBC to be used in next year’s New Car Dealers Foundation of B.C./Special Olympics Auction. He has been a generous donor and buyer in the auction over the years, which is so appreciated by SOBC as the auction provides critical funds to support our programs and opportunities for athletes.

“These folks would never be noticed or recognized should folks not get in to sponsor and support them in some kind of organized activity. This one happens to be athletics, and it’s a good one,” Inkster said of Special Olympics. “It’s all good-news stories, and you can’t help but get involved.”

As the longtime Dealer Principal of Inland Chrysler Dawson Creek, Inkster has heard about the impact of Special Olympics through reading about SOBC athletes in his area in local news coverage of their achievements and activities, and through conference presentations by SOBC athletes and supporters such as leading financial analyst Michael Campbell.

Inkster expresses admiration for the efforts of New Car Dealers such as the Keith family in support of Special Olympics, and also for the thousands of SOBC volunteers who give their time to coach and support athletes with intellectual disabilities.

“The people that are involved in coaching and guiding and providing direction are the ones who need to be thanked, because not only is it the time they put in, but the challenges to be able to interact with these folks and give them the encouragement they need,” he said. “Anyone that’s doing it gets full marks from me.”

Last year, Inkster himself was named Volunteer of the Year by his local city council.

“You can’t be Volunteer of the Year without the support of your staff and everyone around you. I don’t do it by myself,” Inkster said, noting the active involvement of his staff in community causes.