President, Zeigler Auto Group
SPONSOR ORGANIZATIONS: Zeigler Auto Group, Greenleaf Trust, and Huntington Bank
EVENT: Drive for Life
DATE: May 2, 2019
TIME: 6:30 pm
LOCATION: The Radisson Plaza Hotel at Kalamazoo Center
Drive for Life was something my dad started years ago to help support those in our community who are battling cancer. Both of my grandfathers passed away from the disease, as well as both of my wife’s parents. You would be hard-pressed to find someone whose life hasn’t been touched somehow, some way, by cancer. The money we raise goes to the American Cancer Society but also benefits MRC Industries in Kalamazoo and the Kalamazoo Make-A-Wish Foundation. Donations are spent locally to support a ton of people in Southwest Michigan who are in need, including transportation for people who cannot afford to get rides to treatments.
THROUGH THE YEARS
At first, the Drive for Life was hosted at our dealership and tickets were 10 bucks apiece to get in. The event raised about $1,200 in total the first year. Since then, we’ve outgrown that space and moved to the Radisson. This will be the 38th Drive for Life, making it the longest-running charity event in Kalamazoo and the largest gala of its kind in the country that benefits the American Cancer Society—last year, we raised over half-a-million dollars in a single night.
GLITZ, GLAM, AND GIVING
The experience is almost like going to the Oscars, with red-carpet pre- and post-parties going on in different rooms at the Radisson. It’s a who’s who of Kalamazoo. The first hour is a cocktail party, with hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction. Attendees can stroll around the lobby and take a look at the 150-plus items they can bid on. Everything will also be on the Greater Giving website, so you don’t even have to be at the event to bid online.
Then, we will head into the main ballroom for dinner and our keynote speaker. This year, Chris Spielman will be sharing his story; he is an NFL announcer who used to play for the Detroit Lions. At the height of Chris’ career for the Lions, his wife was diagnosed with cancer and he took a year off from playing in the NFL to take care of her.
THE BIG-TICKET ITEMS
We also have a live auction that night, with some unique prizes you couldn’t find anywhere else. One is a game-day package that includes a chartered private jet to Green Bay and suite tickets at a Packers game. Another is a long weekend in a 74th-floor condo at Trump Tower in Chicago. It’s an A-plus location overlooking the river and includes dinner to Maple & Ash, one of the hottest restaurants in the city. Then, at the end of the evening, we give away a car. Each ticket gives you a chance to win a brand-new Honda Accord or $30,000 in cash—your choice.