Joanne Heron and John Wayne MacMullin
Joanne Heron and John Wayne MacMullin. Click image to enlarge

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Article and photos by Russell Purcell

I like to keep myself informed about what’s happening in the world around me but must admit that I hate watching, reading, or listening to the news lately due to the constant barrage of doom-and-gloom reports surrounding the state of the economy. As a teacher I have a front row seat when it comes to observing how difficult a time it is for many families to make ends meet each month, not to mention the struggle school boards and administrators are having when faced with steadily shrinking budgets.

Recently I became aware of a unique pilot program started by the Ford Motor Company that offers assistance to educational programs by way of offering test drives in their automobiles. The Drive One 4 UR School program was developed by Ford “as a fun, engaging way to help high schools raise money to support their sports and extracurricular activities.”

How does it work? Interested schools apply for the opportunity to host a Drive One event and if they are successful, they partner with a local Ford or Lincoln dealership to conduct a test drive fundraising event. For every valid test-drive completed, Ford Canada will donate $20 to the participating high school, up to a maximum of $6,000.

Drive One 4 UR School
Drive One 4 UR School. Click image to enlarge

After proving they have a valid driver’s licence, prospective test drivers fill out a short marketing survey and sign a waiver. They are given the keys to one of the vehicles on hand to go for a short test drive on a marked route through the neighbourhood. Drivers attending the event at Mission Secondary School in Mission, B.C. could select to drive the Ford Escape Hybrid, Focus, Fusion Sport AWD, Ranger or one of two F-150s (including a Harley-Davidson edition with all the toys). Upon completion of the test drive participants are asked to complete a small survey to rate their experience.

If time allows, you are permitted to drive as many of the models as you like, but the school would only be credited for your initial test drive when it came time to tabulate the numbers.

Joanne Heron is the vice-principal at Mission Secondary School. She is a dedicated Ford owner and as such, has developed a professional relationship with John Wayne MacMullin of MSA Ford in nearby Abbotsford. John was aware of the program and as a strong proponent for both education and community support projects he recognized that the Drive One 4 UR School Program would be a perfect fit for Joan to follow up on.

The obvious purpose of the program is to expose as many individuals as possible to Ford and Lincoln products while at the same time promoting goodwill within the community.

“This is a pilot program, but if it proves successful I suspect that Ford will do it every year. From the dealer’s perspective it’s always nice to give back to the community, but as partners in business it’s nice to promote our product too,” said MacMullin. Ford of Canada will give selected schools up to $6,000 to put towards their programs.

Joanne Heron and John Wayne MacMullin
Joanne Heron and John Wayne MacMullin. Click image to enlarge

There were 100 “spins” available to interested schools, and Mission Secondary was lucky to be one of the ones selected for the program. In this case, Mission Secondary has deemed that any money raised through the program will be used to help fund the Dry Grad activities for next year’s graduation class. Dry Grad is an evening of fun activities, entertainment and events organized in a safe, adult –supervised and alcohol-free environment that occurs after prom festivities conclude, keeping the students safe and parents sane.

“Fund-raising is always tough, but especially in today’s economy. The Ford Drive One 4 UR School program is amazing as it allows a school access to as much as $6,000. In our case, that represents about a third of what we require to hold our Dry Grad event each year. This is a great opportunity and helps us out so much,” said Joanne Heron.

Mr. MacMullin pointed out that Ford now offers a wide range of nice affordable vehicles, so this program represents a good way to introduce these products to young drivers (and their families) in hopes that one day they will become Ford customers.

“Unfortunately, there’s a lot of stereotyping when it comes to what type of vehicles a person chooses to drive, and if we can get a young person behind the wheel before they get caught up in it like many more mature consumers, they may see what a great product Ford offers today and make their own decisions based on what they like rather than what they have been told to like by adults.”

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