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Jim Moran Classic Builds Brighter Futures for At-Risk Kids at the Youth Automotive Training Center

Deerfield Beach and Orlando, Fla. – Growing up in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Neiko Ealey, currently a student at the Youth Automotive Training Center (YATC), learned at an early age that you have to be tough to survive on the streets.
 
By the time he was 11, Ealey was fighting and stealing cars. His teen years included a string of arrests, peppered with charges of petty theft, strong-arm robbery and grand larceny. As Ealey bounced from juvenile centers to jails and detention programs, his girlfriend struggled to raise their two young children.
 
After his family moved to South Florida, Ealey continued his criminal behavior. Eventually he heard about YATC, which had earned a reputation for helping troubled kids change their lives. Because the program involved working on cars, a passion Ealey had picked up when he started stealing them, he decided to apply.
 
“I liked popping the hood, checking out the engine and figuring out how everything was connected,” Ealey said to a crowd of nearly 900 supporters during the 2012 Jim Moran Classic at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando. After his last arrest, he knew, “I needed to turn my life around. I was ready. I said to myself, ‘I am never going back to jail again.’” 
 
Now that he is on the right track, Ealey, 19, is determined to stay off the streets, earn his GED and complete YATC’s nine-month program as a better person with a hopeful future.
 
Husband and wife Mike and Ramona Reynolds, YATC alumni who graduated in 2005 and 2006 respectively, joined Ealey as guest speakers at the Jim Moran Classic. The annual event raises operating funds and awareness for YATC, a unique program for at-risk youth founded in 1984 by Jim Moran, an automotive pioneer and founder of JM Family Enterprises and Southeast Toyota Distributors.
 
Mike has no recollection of his father, but recalls his mother working two jobs to care for a family of eight. At an early age, Mike’s rebellious attitude had no limits and it would take years of struggling with substance abuse before he knew he needed to change.
 
“I was fed up with my life, but I didn’t have the courage to stop,” he said. Then he found YATC and was determined to “try the other side of life.” Now a confident young man with a strong sense of self, Mike credits his faith, the love of his family and years of encouragement from YATC for keeping him on a successful path. He has gained an inner peace, learned to show kindness to others and has begun a prosperous career with Publix.
 
Ramona enrolled in the program the following year. One day while waiting for Mike at the center, she filled out an application and was interviewed on the spot. She remembered how during the interview all of her emotions poured out as she shared what she wanted for her life and her children’s futures. Ramona was accepted to YATC, and said she will never forget the first day of school in 2006 when Jim Moran addressed the class.
 
“I sat in the back of the classroom and cried,” she said. “This man, so humble and so genuine, told us he cared. You couldn’t help but believe him. It was then that I knew I could be anything I wanted to be.”
 
Ramona completed her GED that same year and, equipped with her knowledge of cars, joined JM Family subsidiary JM&A Group. She currently works in the Customer Service department.
 
Since opening its doors, YATC has evolved from a one-room training center in Hollywood, Fla., into a 16,000 square-foot facility in Deerfield Beach featuring technical and academic classrooms, a computer learning center/library, state-of-the-art automotive shop, conference room and fitness area. In addition to teaching at-risk youth basic automotive repair, YATC also provides students with academic remediation and training in job readiness and life management skills.
 
“My husband always believed in the potential of every child, and his vision was to create a program specifically for at-risk kids to help them develop self confidence and prepare them for brighter futures,” said Jan Moran. “He would be very proud that the school is continuing to provide its students and graduates with a solid foundation of academic and technical skills, as well as ongoing counseling and guidance to ensure they can achieve their goals.”
 
More than 560 students have completed the program and 123 have received their GEDs. More than 90 percent of graduates are gainfully employed, furthering their education or have joined the armed forces. Thirty graduates hold Automotive Service Excellence certification qualifying them as Certified Technicians, while 38 graduates on scholarship through YATC have earned an associate’s degree and are pursuing their bachelor’s, which four have obtained to date. Graduates of the model program, along with their families, continue to receive assistance to keep them on the right track for success.
 
“Every year, we have the pleasure of watching the students transform themselves into grounded adults who are committed to improving their lives,” said Terry Routley, the school’s executive director. “And once you graduate from YATC, you remain a part of our family forever. We continue offering support services to graduates as they build their lives and careers, and that is all made possible thanks to our generous supporters.”
 
Among the more than 400 individuals and corporations who supported this year’s event were Founding Sponsor The Cross Country Group, and Super Big Heart Sponsors Auto Carrier Express, Inc., and Jan Moran. Big Heart Sponsors included 22squared, ADESA, AT&T, Centurion Auto Logistics, Inc., CEVA Logistics, Dell, EMC Corporation, O’Brien Auto Team, Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Harley-Davidson / Bruce Rossmeyer’s Ft. Lauderdale Harley-Davidson / Daytona Toyota Scion, Tire Kingdom / Merchant’s / NTB / Big O Tires, and Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. Grand Sponsors included 3Cinteractive and AlliedBarton Security Services.
 
This year marked the Jim Moran Classic’s 20th Anniversary at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress. In appreciation for this longstanding partnership, YATC presented the resort with a special Jim Moran Award. Throughout the weekend, guests participated in golf and tennis tournaments along with 50 major golf, baseball, football and tennis celebrities, including Joe Montana, Jason Taylor, Andre Dawson, Earl Morrall, Anthony Muñoz and Ed “Too Tall” Jones. The golf clinic was conducted by World Golf Hall of Famer Chi Chi Rodriguez, golf pro Mark Pfeil and LPGA golfer Nicole Hage. Tennis Hall of Famers Wendy Turnbull and Virginia Wade, along with pros John Lloyd and Duby Petrovich, led the tennis clinic and tournament.
 
The raffle prize, a 2013 Toyota Avalon donated by JM Family and Southeast Toyota, was won by Carlos Cepeda, a Southeast Toyota associate in Commerce, Ga. The Silent Auction featured a painting donated by James Gibson, an original Florida Highwaymen artist, as well as a 2013 Harley-Davidson Tri-Glide Ultra Classic motorcycle donated by Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Harley-Davidson and Bruce Rossmeyer’s Ft. Lauderdale Harley-Davidson. Proceeds from the motorcycle auction benefited the Bruce Rossmeyer Memorial Kick Start Scholarship Fund at YATC to assist graduates who want to pursue their education at a vocational or technical school.

Photo Captions:
Photo 1: Sports legends Jason Taylor (far left) and Joe Montana (far right) presented Keith Kepler (center) of AlliedBarton Security Services with the $25,000 closest-to-the-pin prize. They were joined on stage by (from left) YATC student Neiko Ealey, YATC graduates Mike and Ramona Reynolds, and YATC Executive Director Terry Routley.

Photo 2: (From left) Terry Routley, YATC executive director; Mark Pfeil golf pro and dedicated YATC supporter; Doug Dunbar, television news anchor and Classic emcee; Ramona Reynolds, YATC graduate; Chi Chi Rodriguez, Hall of Fame golfer and longtime friend of YATC; Mike Reynolds, YATC graduate; Neiko Ealey, YATC student; and Olindo Mare, NFL placekicker.

Photo 3: Tennis pros (from left) John Lloyd, Wendy Turnbull, Duby Petrovich and Virginia Wade congratulated tournament winner Charles Einhorn (second from left), a Southeast Toyota Distributors associate.

Photo 4: (From left) Emcee Doug Dunbar and LPGA player Nicole Hage helped conduct the golf clinic for tournament participants.

Photo 5: (From left) NFL great Ed “Too Tall” Jones; Patrick and Peggy Ward of The Cross Country Group; Jan Moran; Bonnie and Michael Saxton of The Cross Country Group; and Colin Brown, president and CEO of JM Family Enterprises and member of the YATC Board of Directors.

Photo 6: Colin Brown (back row, fourth from left), president and CEO of JM Family Enterprises and member of the YATC Board of Directors, and Jan Moran (back row, fifth from right) visited the Kids & Teens Program participants.

Photo 7: (From left) Larry McGinnes, president of the YATC Board of Directors, presented Mark Cox, general manager of the Villas of Grand Cypress, and Paul Tang, vice president and managing director of the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, with a special Jim Moran Award honoring the 20th Anniversary of their partnership with YATC and the Jim Moran Classic.

Photo 8: YATC student Neiko Ealey was a guest speaker at the Jim Moran Classic and shared with Classic sponsors how the school has given him a chance to turn his life around.

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, 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 SW Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, Deerfield Beach, Fla.