Currie Motors Ford of Valparaiso raised $3,500 for Folds of Honor, a foundation that creates scholarships for children of military veterans who were adversely affected by deployment, during a Memorial Day event May 28.
Currie Motors has branches in Frankfort and Forest Park, Illinois, that also hold events to raise money for veterans and their families on Memorial Day. Leo Sfikas, general manager for Currie Motors, said that one of the top reasons for the event is in response to other car dealerships and businesses who use Memorial Days to host sales.
“You open up the newspaper and all you see is sales on Memorial Day,” Sfikas said. “I find it offensive that companies have sales on this day. Sell cars the other 364 days of the year; today is about remembering the fallen warriors.”
Currie Motors paid for all expenses for the event, and matched all donations up to $200 made by those who attended. Revenue from tickets, food, beverages, raffles and sales of Folds of Honor apparel went to Folds of Honor. There was also a free bouncy house for children, and a car show for car enthusiasts.
The Valparaiso dealership opened in October, and did not have a grand opening celebration then, so the event also introduced Currie Motors to the Valparaiso community.
“Obviously we are open for business, but today is not about selling cars,” Sfikas said. “I don’t care if we don’t sell a single car today because if we make money for Folds of Honor I am happy.”
Raffle prizes included car enthusiast merchandise such as Ford clocks, Shelby Cobra keychains and a Raptor remote control car.
Attendees also had the chance to win a 2016 Ford Mustang valued at $25,000 by paying $5 to play a game. Kevin Barber, of Westville, won about $200 in a raffle, which he donated right back to Folds of Honor.
This was the first large charity event hosted for Folds of Honor in Northwest Indiana. Jody Roberts, a four-year volunteer for Folds of Honor, got involved in 2012 after six Indiana National Guardsmen were killed in action in Afghanistan.
“This event is such a good opportunity for Folds of Honor,” Roberts said. “It’s just such a great foundation.”
Jim Swanson, a veteran with about 30 years of service, including being deployed to Iraq, was glad to see an event that helps veterans’ families in the long run.
“Folds of Honor is a fantastic organization, and what it represents is personal for me because I know people who have been killed in action,” Swanson said. “Everyone remembers them when they are killed, but nobody cares about it five years down the road. This says a lot to me about Currie Motors’ patriotism.”
Dale “Doc” Ready, a Lowell resident and Vietnam War veteran, was glad to see an event that helps families of veterans, especially those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
“I’m an optimist so I’m hoping that the word will get out for the community to come out and help our veterans who are in desperate need,” Ready said. “This is an honor and a privilege.”
To help draw people to the event, Currie Motors had a car show with classic and modern vehicles for attendees to view and vote for the cars they enjoyed the most.
“In the future, I would like to take every single car off our lot for this event to build the car show even more,” Sfikas said. “Cars just have something about them that lures in people.”
The first entry of the car show was a Ford Thunderbird owned by Joe and Sandy Kraatz, of Valparaiso, which Joe bought new in 1957. Joe is also an Army veteran.
“This shows they’re caring people,” Joe said of Currie Motors. “It’s nice to see a business show appreciation and respect for veterans.”
Currie Motors hosts other charity events throughout the year. On May 14, it hosted an event called Ride and Drive where $20 was donated to Boone Grove High School in Valparaiso every time a car was test driven.