BBQ for the Troops to be held July 14 at car dealerships

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Military members and their families serve and sacrifice for our freedom. The Chicago area will have a chance to give back to those families throughout the month of July. The festivities and fundraiser kicked off Wednesday with a preview of the sixth annual BBQ for the Troops.

With an anthem, a color guard from the local Marine recruitment center and vehicles from some of Chicago's leading auto dealerships filling the blacktop, it looked just like what will be happening at those dealerships July 14.

Tony Guido, chairman of the Chicago Automobile Trade Association, and Alison Ruble, president and CEO of USO of Illinois, talked to ABC7 from the United Center where a kick-off was held Wednesday.

"The first two weeks of the month everything is 'go' for the first 14 days," Guido said.

The USO of Illinois supports some 325,000 military members and their families.

"We are completely privately funded so the great thing is this: local communities supporting local military and military families," Ruble said. "Over half a million dollars over the last five years have been raised and that is all dedicated to the USO programs right here in Illinois."

Primary among those programs is giving hard-pressed soldiers and sailors a soft place to land.

"If you have been to O'Hare Airport or Midway, you have seen a service member walking through and they just want to sit down and relax with their combat boots on," Ruble said. "That's what the USO does; we are there to say thanks, provide them a home away from home."

Cars and patriotism have long gone hand-in-hand in America. This year, more than 100 car dealers will host a BBQ for the Troops.

"We have a rooftop and we are going to do a spectacular barbecue there," said Kathleen Finn, part of Grossinger Auto Group. "We are going to have games and toys and giveaways and raffles. It is just going to be a blowout event to say thank you and to show our support."

"Our names are on the front of our buildings in every town so we really take it to heart to help out in the community and there is nothing easier to get behind than supporting our troops," said J.C. Phelan, of Jack Phelan Chevrolet.

The Denis Savard Foundation, established by the former Chicago Blackhawk and Hockey Hall of Famer, has long supported the USO.

"I feel very blessed. All of us feel blessed. We are safe at home because of them," he said.

You don't need to be in the market for a new car to take part July 14. But gratitude goes a long way.

"The goal within the next few years is to get to $1 million, and that would be a great accomplishment for just a short time," Guido said.

The USO of Illinois supports some 325,000 military members and their families.

For a list of participating dealerships, visit
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