When Applewood Kia Dealer Principal Darren Graham walked into the Opening Ceremonies of the 2013 Special Olympics BC Summer Games alongside Vancouver Canucks legend Trevor Linden, leading the team of 375 SOBC athletes and coaches from Vancouver Island, he was right in the middle of the powerful spirit of support, encouragement, empowerment, pride, and joy that Special Olympics is all about.
“It’s quite impressive to be in a group that large – certainly a very positive, warm, loving environment, not just the athletes but the coaches as well,” Graham said. “The people who are involved in that are there because they love it. When you parachute into that, you can certainly feel it.”
Founder of the 15-year-old Applewood Kia franchise, Graham and his dealership actively give to a number of non-profit organizations in the Langley and Surrey communities, and they support SOBC through the New Car Dealers Association of B.C. Graham donates to and support the annual New Car Dealers Foundation of B.C./Special Olympics Auction, such as the generous donation he and Raymond Van Empel have given in the last three years, use of their co-owned Las Vegas condo and airfare.
“My exposure to Special Olympics has been through the lens of the New Car Dealers, and I think it’s fantastic. There seems to be a lot of people involved, and very good support of the programs,”
Graham took part in the 2013 SOBC Provincial Games Opening Ceremonies as a member of the New Car Dealers Association Board of Directors, a role he has served in for two years. Before joining the board, Graham was involved with the association for approximately eight years through working with subcommittees.
Applewood Kia is the oldest Kia dealership in the province, and in addition to giving to SOBC through the New Car Dealers Association, they support a wide range of local causes including tree-planting to reforest areas devastated by pine beetles, Cops for Cancer, Semiahmoo House, and Guildford Athletic Club.
“I’m pleased to be in a position to be able to do these sorts of things,” Graham said.
Playing a part in the SOBC Games Opening Ceremonies was another pleasing experience.
“It was quite an honour to be involved in those Opening Ceremonies, especially being next to Trevor Linden,” Graham said. “There’s an all-consuming sort of love in that group of people.”