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FUNdraising Behind the Wheel

Milford High School volunteers at the May 21, Drive One 4 UR School fundraiser included high school principal, Michael Tempesta (far left) and Class of 2011 Valedictorian, Holly Hajare (3rd from the left).

How many fundraising drives actually put you behind the wheel for a drive you wouldn't soon forget? That was the case on Saturday, May 21 as Milford High School hosted the Ford Motor Company's Drive One 4 UR (Your) School fundraiser, co-sponsored by Imperial Ford.

The Drive One 4 UR School program offers high schools across the country an opportunity to generate funds while giving the participants a chance to test-drive several models of new Ford cars. For each test-ride, Ford contributed $20 to the school and as was the case at Milford High, an additional $10 for each time a Ford Focus was driven.

Imperial Ford, who donated staff and vehicles for the event, has participated in the program for the past four years, according to Imperial Ford Business Manager, David Chiarello. "Last year it was at Blackstone Valley (Regional Technical Vocational School)," he noted. "They used the money (as funding for) Rachel's Challenge", which is an educational program for students, detailing the 1999 Columbine tragedy while celebrating the life of Rachel Scott, one of its victims.

Chiarello, who was joined at the event by his daughter, Sarah, noted that the fundraiser was seen as a "purely educational event" with no selling involved. "Kevin Meehan (owner of the Imperial Ford, Chevy and Chrysler/Jeep dealerships) is constantly doing things to help the community and giving back. Anytime we get a chance to do an event at a school, there's no question (that we will)." said Chiarello. In addition to donated staff time and six new Ford cars, Imperial also donated a sum of money to the school.

Also helping to staff the event were students representing each of the classes at the high school, including this year's valedictorian, Holly Hajjare. Joining them were high school Principal. Michael Tempesta and several teachers and class advisors. "The money is going to each class that participates and to the Boosters Club," Tempesta explained. "(It) will go directly to activities, to pay for student programming and some of the money will go back to (the Boosters Club), which actually comes back to us (the high school)."

"Mike Tempesta was the key guy behind getting everyone motivated," noted Chiarello. "As soon as he signed up for this, they started to have meetings, got all the parents aware, got the teachers and got the Boosters Club involved. He did an incredible job. We never had this much consistent traffic (at the event). It's been non-stop."

"What we like most about it," Tempesta stated, "is that it's a quick and efficient fundraiser and the people from Imperial Ford have been great to work with."

Five of Ford's 2011 models were on hand for test drives: the Ford Fusion, Taurus, Explorer, Fiesta and Edge. In addition, participants had an opportunity to test drive the 2012 Ford Focus.

Imperial Ford salesperson, Mike Portanova, noted that all of the Ford models have been "totally redesigned" offering "really attractive fuel economy". New technological and safety features, such as additional air-bags have also been added.

Since its inception, in 2007, the program has generated in excess of $5 million in donations for the nation's high schools. Over 275,000 test rides have been taken at 1,500 venues.

"We know how hard the students work and as part of this community, we want to help," stated Imperial Ford General Manager, Michael Penner.

The 2012 Ford Focus was showcased at the event. As with other Ford models, the Focus has been redesigned for gas savings and added driver safety.


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