'Jeep invasion' in St. Charles this weekend to benefit local charities
A group of Fox Valley business owners are organizing a "Jeep invasion" this weekend in St. Charles to benefit three local charities.
Between 150 and 200 Jeeps are expected to cruise through town Saturday, starting about 12:30 p.m. at Charlestowne Mall and ending at a fundraiser at Fix Auto Fox Valley, 1214 Foundry St.
In addition to showcasing Jeep models, the inaugural "Jeep Crusade for a Cause" event aims to raise money for organizations identified by the Fox River Business Alliance: Random Acts Matter of St. Charles, HorsePower Therapeutic Riding in Maple Park and Gigi's Playhouse Fox Valley.
"We wanted to look at some of the local charities that need the money but that a lot of people don't know about," said John DeNicolo, business alliance member and owner of Fix Auto. "I think we got lucky because we got three great charities that we can help out, and we've tapped into something that has a natural audience with the Jeep (theme)."
The Fox River Business Alliance was founded about eight years ago by DeNicolo and two other business owners interested in pursuing philanthropic opportunities.
The group eventually grew to nearly 20 members who have casual monthly meetings and pay dues that support various charities, DeNicolo said. They also participate in fundraising walks, volunteer at food banks and package meals through Feed My Starving Children.
This year, they decided to organize their own event benefiting philanthropies near and dear to their hearts, he said.
Random Acts Matter raises money to provide acts of compassion and care throughout the community on a referral basis. HorsePower offers therapeutic horseback riding lessons to children and adults with disabilities. And Gigi's Playhouse is a Down syndrome awareness and educational center that provides various resources to those affected.
"Jeep Crusade for a Cause," co-hosted by the Midwest Jeep Alliance, is expected to draw Jeep enthusiasts from across the region, DeNicolo said. St. Charles police will accompany the Jeeps on their convoy along Main Street.
From 1 to 6 p.m., the fundraiser at Fix Auto will offer food and beverages by the Blue Goose Market, music by Jerry Renda of WJAM DJ Entertainment, hourly live auctions for Jeep specialty items and a 50/50 raffle, which is at more than $11,000 so far.
Jeep show participants must pay a $10 entry fee. Categories include best stock, best modified, best heavily modified, best interior upgrades and best trail rig.
"We've tapped into this (niche), and they're all about it," DeNicolo said. "We put together a nice little showcase for this. We're really excited."