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Youth Automotive Training Center Hosts First Virtual Event to Raise Program Funds for Underserved Young People

More than 150 friends and sponsors of the Youth Automotive Training Center (YATC) from all across the nation gathered online on November 14 as part of the school’s first virtual donor appreciation and fundraising effort. The 2020 Shifting Gears Virtually event grew from YATC’s desire to celebrate its community and show appreciation to long-standing partners of the program, while keeping everyone safe amid COVID-19 concerns. YATC friends rallied and the virtual event generated the necessary funds for the program for a full year.

The webinar-style event was focused on expressing a deep gratitude that YATC Founder Jim Moran displayed for every individual who supports the school and its mission to help troubled youth change their lives. It was also the opportunity to commemorate the “YATC Family” of students, graduates, donors, volunteers and everyone who contributes to the organization’s success. 

Guests learned more about the program from emcee, Emmy Award and Edward R. Murrow Award winner Doug Dunbar, television news anchor and reporter for KTVT-TV (CBS 11) in Dallas/Fort Worth; YATC Executive Director Terry Routley and Board of Directors President Larry McGinnes. The real-life impact of YATC was explained by current student, Ryan Lucas, and Quincy Thompson, 27, of Labelle and a graduate of the YATC Class of 2012.  

“I consider myself extremely lucky that I was accepted into YATC,” said Lucas,18, of Lauderhill and a member of YATC’s Class of 2021. “I am grateful that there are people who are willing to put so much time and money into a cause just to give people like me another shot. I know I did some bad things when I fell on tough times and I take responsibility for all my actions. But now I see my past doesn’t have to be my future.”

Several longtime celebrity friends of YATC joined the streamed event. NFL Hall of Famer Joe Montana, World Golf Hall of Famer Chi Chi Rodriguez and golf pro and PGA Tour winner Mark Pfeil, Baseball Hall of Famers Mike Schmidt and Andre Dawson and NFL kicker and former Miami Dolphin Olindo Mare, all of whom have been involved with the program for many years, joined the fun, sharing updates on their lives in 2020 and why YATC is meaningful to them. 

“Planning an online event was totally new to us and we weren’t sure how people would respond. We were blown away with the generosity, interest and enthusiasm from our loyal friends,” said McGinnes. “We strive every day to honor our Founder’s vision by continuing to provide young men and women with the support, skills and knowledge they need to build productive, successful lives. We couldn’t do it without the YATC community.”

Since its inception in 1984 by automotive legend Jim Moran, 777 graduates have completed the nine-month, multi-faceted YATC curriculum, 202 of whom have received their high school diplomas. YATC serves a culturally diverse population, with 70% of graduates self-identifying as non-white. More than 90% of graduates are gainfully employed, furthering their education or serving in the Armed Forces. Fifty-nine graduates on scholarship through YATC have earned an associate’s degree and six have obtained a bachelor’s degree. Alumni of the model program, along with their families, continue to receive assistance from YATC after graduation to keep them on the right track for success.

Shifting Gears Virtually major donors included Founding Sponsor: Sid & Deanna Wolk, Agero and The Cross Country Group; Super Big Heart Sponsors: Auto Carrier Express and Wanda and Jim Moran; Big Heart Sponsors: 22squared, Centurion Auto Transport, Maus Nissan/David Maus/Gib Dannehower, O’Brien Automotive Team, and Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Harley-Davidson and Daytona Toyota.

“YATC is grateful to all the sponsors who continue to support YATC during this difficult year,” said Executive Director Terry Routley. “We know there are many wonderful nonprofits doing incredible work in our community. That makes us even more grateful that so many individuals and companies believe in our mission and the impact we make on the lives of the young adults in our program.”
About the Youth Automotive Training Center

Established by Jim Moran in 1984, the mission of the Youth Automotive Training Center is to train and educate at-risk youth in basic automotive repair skills, academic remediation, job readiness and life management skills. The goal of this program is to prepare young adults who are at a disadvantage in their lives to become self-sufficient, productive, law-abiding citizens. Students are referred to YATC in a variety of ways, including through the Departments of Juvenile Justice and Children and Families, as well as YATC graduates, local clergy and word of mouth. For more information about the Youth Automotive Training Center visit www.yatc.org or call 954-428-0909. YATC is located at 399 S.W. Third Ave., Deerfield Beach, Fla.