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Garmin donates $17K to four charities

by CJ Carnacchio

July 25, 2012

Pictured (from left) are Christmas in Action members Earl Caron, Bruce Pearson and Bob Riley, LOFT Coordinator/Teacher Jeanne DiCicco and Paraprofessional Kathy Stull, Renee Guzanek (who stood in for husband Rob Guzanek) and Jessica Moore, program director of Banbury Cross Therapeutic Equestrian Center. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio.
Four charities that help make the world a better place by improving the lives of senior citizens, homeless dogs and individuals with special needs received a significant financial shot in the arm Monday evening.

Christmas in Action (Northeast Oakland County), Banbury Cross Therapeutic Equestrian Center, Oxford LOFT/Special Olympics and Last Day Dog Rescue were each presented a check for $4,285, courtesy of Garmin International, at the 24th Street Sports Tavern in downtown Oxford.

Garmin, a worldwide provider of navigation, communication and information devices and applications, raised approximately $17,000 through the first annual Technology Show and Golf Outing it held in June at the Indianwood Golf and Country Club in Orion.

The event was organized by Addison Township resident Rob Guzanek, who's a marketing manager with Garmin's Automotive Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) group in Novi.

"It comes down to organizations that the employees of Garmin International support," Guzanek explained. "Here in our Novi office, we wanted to donate monies to organizations that we volunteer for. There's a number of people in our small office that work with each of these organizations.

"Instead of pooling the money and (giving it) to one major organization . . . that might have a lot of overhead expenses, we wanted to donate to organizations that we believe in (and) have (smaller budgets to work with) . . . We know that (a $4,285 donation) will make a significant impact on their daily operations in the community . . . For some of them, that's a year's worth or a month's worth of operational expenses. It's going to do a lot for them."

Located at 1223 Brauer Rd. in Metamora Township, Banbury Cross provides therapeutic riding and equine-assisted activities that are uniquely designed for people with cognitive, physical, emotional and social disabilities.

As students of all ages learn about horsemanship and basic equine care, they receive the added benefits of improved balance, mobility, muscle tone, coordination and posture, plus enhanced independence and increased concentration and self-esteem.

"This money's going to do huge things for Banbury," said Program Director Jessica Moore. "It's going to replenish our scholarship fund for our riders who cannot afford to ride on their own. It will help us buy adaptive equipment for some of our riders who need that. It will also help with some horse (related) expenses."

Based at Oxford High School, LOFT stands for Learning Opportunities for Tomorrow and it serves 18-to-26-year-old students with developmental disabilities or cognitive impairment. LOFT focuses on preparing young men and women to lead productive, fulfilling and independent adult lives by teaching them a variety of useful skills.

As part of the LOFT program, students also compete in Special Olympics in a variety of sports including basketball, soccer, bowling, swimming, and track and field. Playing sports helps LOFT students develop positive social skills, build their self-esteem and become well-rounded individuals.

"This money's going to do a lot for our program," said LOFT Coordinator/Teacher Jeanne DiCicco. "It's going to help us get more uniforms, more equipment, more athletes, more places to train. It's going to allow our program to grow into something fantastic for Oxford. This is a huge step in the right direction. I'm so excited for our students and our athletes."

Christmas in Action (CIA) is a program through which volunteers complete free home repairs and improvements in order to allow low-income senior citizens to remain safe, warm and independent in their own homes.

"A check in this amount will probably buy the materials for about (three) homes," said CIA member Bob Riley. "Materials cost us, on the average, about $1,500 per home. This goes a long way toward helping us with our homes for next year. This is a great boost for us."

CIA helps repair seniors' homes in Oxford, Addison, Orion and Oakland townships.

"We try to do one in each township (every year)," said CIA member Earl Caron.

"We've gotten every township so far except Oakland," Riley noted. "We haven't been lucky enough to get anybody in Oakland yet."

The final charity to receive a $4,285 from Garmin International was the Livonia-based Last Day Dog Rescue. This all-volunteer group rescues dogs from shelters that either euthanize them or sell them to research labs. The group specializes in those dogs that often get overlooked when it comes to adoption because they're either too large, too "ugly," too old or simply the wrong color.

"Last Day Dog Rescue does not discriminate and feels that each of these dogs . . . deserves a second chance at life," according to