One Rochester Nonprofit "Unlocked" Ford Friendship Express

New Ford Transit Connect van awarded to Mary Cariola Children's Center; Future Boxing Club and Center For Youth each received cash donation

BUFFALO, NY - Earlier today, the Rochester Area Ford Dealers donated a new Ford Transit Connect passenger van to Mary Cariola Children's Center, a nonprofit organization serving more than 550 youth who have various disabilities. Through the Ford Friendship Express Program, the Ford Dealers have awarded 12 vans, valued at nearly $300,000, to Rochester non-profit organizations.

"Transportation allows an organization to further its mission and continue to serve the surrounding community," said Tom Shepard, representative for the Ford Friendship Express Selection Committee. "Mary Cariola Children's Center will use the Ford Friendship Express van to transport students to daily activities and classes that prepare them with life skills to become as independent as possible."

The Ford Friendship Express selection committee received a record 60 applications from organizations this year, nearly doubling what they have received in previous years. The committee narrowed the selection down to three finalists and invited them to the Rochester International Auto Show to reveal the van recipient. The finalists each opened a gift box to see who held the key to the 2011 Ford Transit Connect passenger van. Mary Cariola Children's Center had the key that unlocked their new van.

The two runner-up organizations were surprised with a cash donation of $2,500 each to support their daily operations. They are the Future Boxing Club, Inc., an afterschool program focused on physical fitness to help fight obesity among at-risk, school-age youth; and The Center For Youth, a center offering confidential programs and services to 22,000 youth annually, some of whom are homeless or runaways.

Past Ford Friendship Express recipients include: The Academy for Career Development, Boys and Girls Club of Rochester, Easter Seals New York, Foodlink, Rochester St. Martin's Boxing Club, Salvation Army, The Society for the Protection and Care of Children, Hickok Center for Brain Injury, and Wilson Commencement Park.

About The WNY Ford Dealers
The Western New York Ford dealers are part of the Western New York Ford Stores, an advertising cooperative comprised of 31 dealer locations, that provides support for Ford vehicle sales and service in the 13 counties of Western New York and two counties in Northern Pennsylvania.