Joe Verde - Canine Companions for Independence

In a continued effort to support Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), ADESA held an auction during the 2017 NADA Convention in New Orleans that raised $94,423 for the NADA Foundation and CCI.

Retired Army Sgt. Steve Blackman and his service dog, Gottlieb, attended the auction to represent Canine Companions.

“My life has completely changed. No longer do I wake every morning wondering what the day is going to bring and if I can make it through it because I have [Gottlieb],” said Blackman, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in service. “I know my family doesn’t have to worry about me anymore. I can go out and do things and leave the house because I have him. Canine Companions has made this possible for veterans and so many other people with disabilities. It gives us our independence back.”

Joe Verde, a longtime supporter of CCI, is also a veteran who served in the U.S. Army for more than seven years and was stationed in Vietnam in 1967, 1968 and 1969, during the Vietnam War, as a CH-47 Flight Engineer. As a Purple Heart recipient, he has a strong connection with other veterans and has become active in ways to help them make a smoother transition into their lives back at home.

“I’m a veteran. My dad was a veteran, and my son and grandkids are all veterans,” said Verde. “These wounded veterans give so much and Canine Companions is such a worthy cause.”
There were three bidders at the ADESA auction this year, and here’s a rundown of the event:

• Robert Bassam, founder of Easterns Automotive Group in Sterling, Va., placed the first winning bid of $39,000 for a 2015 Polaris Utility Task Vehicle (UTV). He then donated the UTV back to ADESA to be re-auctioned.
• Joe Verde was the winner of the second bid with $26,000. He also donated the vehicle back for re-auction (as he’s done since 2013).
• Bassam’s son, Joel Bassam, director of marketing for Easterns Automotive Group, placed the final winning bid of $28,000.

Attendees gathered at the ADESA booth during the auction made $1,423 in cash donations to bring the final contribution to $94,423.

“We asked dealers and attendees to bid high in honor of the 100th anniversary of NADA. They responded by generously opening their hearts and wallets to help support two amazing organizations,” said Stéphane St-Hilaire, ADESA president and CEO. “The NADA Foundation and Canine Companions work to change the lives of veterans and children with disabilities every day. ADESA is very proud to once again play a leading role in supporting these great causes.”

ADESA auctions over the past six NADA conventions have raised more than $334,400 for the NADA Foundation’s Frank E. McCarthy Memorial Fund, in whose name the Canine Companions donation is made. McCarthy was NADA chief executive from 1968 to 2001.

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