This article is a reprint from the new series from Automotive News called “Dealers of Distinction.”
Automotive News — April 25, 2011 – 12:01 am ET
Celebrity guests included comedian and car buff Jay Leno, singer Jon Secada and race car driver Helio Castroneves. Awards were presented for the finest motorcycles and classic cars.
But the owners of Rick Case Automotive Group, the 31st-largest U.S. dealership group, started their philanthropic work in a slightly less glamorous way: collecting unwanted bicycles.
Since 1982, the Cases have used their dealerships as collection sites for used bicycles, which they redistribute to children during the holiday season. In the first 11 years, the Rick Case Bikes for Kids program had delivered more than 100,000 bicycles to local children.
“We do it because we’ve got to give back to the community. It’s good to us,” said Rick, who runs 13 automotive dealerships in Ohio, Georgia and Florida with Rita. “We sell a lot of cars to a lot of people, and we feel we owe the community for our successes.”
Underprivileged children have been a special focus for Rick, 68, and Rita, 56, particularly through the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. In Broward County, contributions from the Cases help provide services for 11,500 area children ages 7 to 17.
“We feel it’s important to give those kids the same chance we had,” Rick Case says.
Kerry Becker, head of events for the Broward County organization, said $6 million of the chapter’s $9 million budget comes from special events organized by the Cases.
“We have been able to grow and keep up with the needs of the community because of them,” said Becker, whose organization provides safe, supervised places for children to go after school. “They not only donate resources, but also their time.”
Says Rita Case: “Our charity work that we do, we’ve just taken our organizational skills, our entrepreneurial skills, our creative skills and applied them to that. Charity is a business, just like the car business.”