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Since its inception, Epic Opportunities has been driven to support people with intellectual disabilities to enjoy full and rewarding lives.

Driven is also a good way to describe a new fundraising initiative the non-profit agency will be involved in this fall. Epic Opportunities is partnering with Capital Ford Lincoln as part of the Drive 4 UR Community program.

Drive 4 UR Community raises much-needed funds for a range of community groups including food banks, hospitals and animal shelters. Since it’s launch in 2007, the Ford Canada program has raised about $35 million for participating organizations across the country.

Human Resource Generalist Chantal Dionne says Epic Opportunities first approached Capital Lincoln Ford management about getting involved in the program this past January. They were very receptive to the request, she adds, and the Empress Street dealership agreed to partner with the agency a short time later.

The way the program works is simple. Local Ford dealerships donate $20 for each test drive on a select day at a participating location to a community partner up to a maximum of $6,000. Each test driver must be at least 18 years of age and hold a valid driver’s license. Only one test drive is permitted per household.

The one-day fundraising event is coordinated by dealership employees, who volunteer their time, and staff at the participating community group. The Epic Opportunities test drive event will take place Friday, Sept. 15 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Grant Park Festival site at 1170 Taylor Ave.

Dionne says staff at Capital Lincoln Ford have been extremely helpful in helping the agency coordinate the promotion.

“They’ve been very supportive. They’ve given us suggestions on things that worked in the past for them…and ideas about what might work for us,” she says.

While the event helps promote the Ford brand, Capital Ford Lincoln Sales Manager Andre Prefontaine says it’s not about selling cars and trucks. In fact, no one is asked to purchase a vehicle during the event.

“It’s really about giving back to the community. Ford has a lot of money invested in the country…and we employ a lot of Canadians. This is just a way of giving back,” he adds.

Prefontaine says Capital Ford Lincoln chose to partner with Epic Opportunities because several employees at the dealership were already familiar with the agency and respected its efforts to support people with intellectual disabilities to live independently in the community.

Individuals will be able to register online to participate in the promotion beginning in September. Dionne says the agency will be encouraging its employees, their families and other interested individuals to participate in the promotion and has secured the help of a local radio station and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers Alumni Association to get the word out. She has no doubts about the agency’s ability to reach its fundraising target of $6,000.

“I’m very optimistic. People want to help other people. It’s our hope that people will want to come out and help us to achieve our goal,” she says.

Dionne says the second week of September was chosen for the promotion because it coincides with Direct Support Professionals Week in Manitoba and is a great opportunity to recognize the outstanding work of direct support workers employed by Epic Opportunities. The promotion will also provide the agency with an opportunity to generate some added exposure for itself and the field of community support work, she adds.

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