Our annual event is gaining traction!
ON THE FIRST FRIDAY OF JUNE, for the past six years, the DE team and its members have provided people of all ages with any type of unique medical, cognitive, physical, sensory and/or social-emotional considerations with one of the most memorable days of their lives!
Since its inception in 2012, driven2smile has attracted an average of 300-350 attendees each year! Information about UCR’s Charity Day has been shared through direct mailings, email blasts, social media blasts and postings, presentations, displays at information fairs and word-of-mouth. Each year we have identified and targeted a new community segment to get the word out to and to as many different people as possible about UCR’s amazing event. This has included reaching out to individuals, special interest groups, large organizations, and every schoolboard in Ontario (Public and Catholic).
driven2smile welcomes attendees of ALL AGES. We have hosted families from east of Ottawa, west of London and north of Barrie. Registering for driven2smile is free with the donation of a non-perishable food item per person. In turn we donate an SUV full of food to Simcoe Hall Settlement House’s food bank in Oshawa.
At driven2smile, attendees and their family, caregivers and educators are treated to rides around the world famous Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CMPT) race track. UCR club members from the Red and Black run groups in the Driver Education program (DE) lovingly share their time and cherished rides to give attendees a thrill of a life time – rides around the track.
Families regularly comment about how wonderful it is to attend such an event and not feel judged or shunned. In fact, attendees are overwhelmed with gratitude for the genuine care, concern and enthusiasm each UCR member exudes towards them at driven2smile.
At track side, there are three staging areas. These are required for traffic management and safety. These also allow for attendees to be sub-grouped according to their needs and abilities. In order to clearly identify the level of need of attendees, each person is provided with a colour coded driven2smile t-shirt. Attendees think the t-shirts are a great keepsake, UCR volunteers appreciate the clear mode of sharing information without stigmatizing attendees.
Off track, UCR sponsors a circus sized tent full of activities to entertain attendees while waiting for their rides. To add to the fun, we solicit in-kind donations throughout the year for raffles. Lunch is provided by UCR for all drivers, volunteers and attendees. The circus sized tent is essential to the success of the day because it offers shelter from sun and/or rain. The weather at CMPT really is a microcosm onto itself which can change from one weather extreme to another in less time than it takes to complete one lap around the track as DE’ers will attest!!!
driven2smile was inspired by the story of the keynote speaker during UCR’s 35th Anniversary Gala, who shared how she had wanted the young mechanic who works on her car to experience what it is like to ride in the vehicles he works on. She contacted the Club and the DE Team readily agreed. Rick Bye took Aaron (the mechanic) out on the track for a few laps. Before Lorraine could reach the car, they went back out. When they came back in, Aaron was behind the wheel to Lorraine’s surprise. As it turns out, Rick had been coaching individuals with special needs (e.g., Autism, CP, etc…) regarding advanced driving techniques as part of his recovery from a number of accidents he had experienced, so driving with Aaron was a logical extension of his expertise.
This story moved us, myself included, to discuss the option of creating a UCR charity event to share the Club’s love of Porsches with individuals with special needs. UCR’s Board of Directors and DE team members responded very enthusiastically because the concept embraces vital segments of our community, regardless of age, unique consideration, or organizational affiliation. driven2smile truly welcomes each and every person. Families regularly comment about how wonderful it is to attend such an event and not feel judged or shunned. In fact, attendees are overwhelmed with gratitude for the genuine care, concern and enthusiasm each UCR member exudes towards them at driven2smile.
Initially, the Durham Down syndrome Association was a collaborative host. Then as driven2smile grew over the next few years, I established a charity specifically to protect the vision of driven2smile.
driven2smile also welcomes volunteers from our own members, families and friends; university, college, and high school programs; returning attendees who would like to give back and interested individuals from the community. In-kind and/or monetary donations can be made via driven2smile and will receive a charitable receipt for income tax purposes. Annual donors are recognized on each year’s t-shirts and the website.
Each year, we need volunteers to set-up the night before (chairs, tables, and equipment), help at registration tables first thing in the morning, staff off-track activities, serve lunch, take photos, and finally take-down and clean up at the end of the day. DE volunteers staff track side activities to ensure the safety of attendees and drivers.
We would like to extend a heartfelt invitation to all UCR members, their families and individuals they may know or to anyone who would like to help and share in this amazing experience. </>
By Jill Clements-Baartman