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31st Annual Jim Moran Classic Raises Funds in Support of Youth Automotive Training Center

Deerfield Beach and Orlando, Fla. (December 4, 2017) – At age 21, Saidah Lawrence wakes up in the morning feeling good about herself. That wasn’t always the case for Lawrence, a Deerfield Beach resident currently enrolled in the Youth Automotive Training Center (YATC). She shared her personal story of skipping school, drug use and family turmoil with more than 600 guests at the recent Jim Moran Classic, YATC’s primary fundraiser.

DOWNLOAD hi-res images from the 2017 Jim Moran Classic

“Things are finally falling into place for me – the other day my mother told me that she is proud of me, and I never thought that I would hear that from my mother again,” said an emotional Lawrence. “I am so appreciative of my YATC family, because a family is what they have become to me. And I am thankful for Mr. Moran’s dream because his dream is now my reality.”

Lawrence's new life is growing thanks to a new direction she's taking at YATC, a program founded by automotive legend Jim Moran in 1984. The nine-month program was designed to assist youths with troubled or disadvantaged backgrounds begin their futures anew through automotive training, life skills, academic remediation and professional guidance. 

Since its inception, nearly 700 graduates have completed the multi-faceted YATC curriculum, 167 of whom have received their GEDs and more than 90 percent are gainfully employed, furthering their education or serving in the armed forces. Thirty-three graduates hold Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certifications qualifying them as Certified Technicians, while 54 graduates on scholarship through YATC have earned an associate’s degree and six have obtained a bachelor’s degree. Alumni of the model program, along with their families, continue to receive assistance from YATC after graduation to keep them on the right track for success.

2003 YATC Graduate Ranger Mervilus is part of the program’s continuing success stories. Nearly 15 years after graduation, he credits YATC with changing his life. Now married and with a job as a commercial driver, Mervilus thanked donors for supporting him and the hundreds of other YATC graduates through the years.
 
“Jim Moran always said every kid needs a second chance,” he recalled.

This second chance is the foundation of YATC’s mission.

“The Youth Automotive Training Center was designed by Jim Moran to give deserving young men and women an opportunity to break away from the challenges and roadblocks they have faced in their lives. With YATC’s help they can gain skills and knowledge that will allow them to build productive, successful lives as law-abiding community members,” said Larry McGinnes, president, YATC Board of Directors. “With the support of our generous sponsors, the Jim Moran Classic raises funds to ensure that this mission will continue for many years to come.”
 
The Jim Moran Classic Weekend 
Friends of YATC, including in excess of 250 golf and tennis players, recently gathered at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando to take part in the 31st annual Jim Moran Classic, which generated the funds necessary to operate YATC for a full year. 

The annual fundraising event was emceed for the 21st consecutive year by Emmy Award and Edward R. Murrow Award winner Doug Dunbar, television news anchor and reporter for KTVT-TV (CBS 11) in Dallas/Fort Worth. Throughout the weekend, guests enjoyed golf and tennis events alongside more than 40 professional golf, baseball, football, hockey, track and field and tennis celebrities, including Bob Brudzinski, Andre Dawson, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Mike Schmidt, Joe Montana, Chi Chi Rodriguez and Renaldo Nehemiah. 

Highlights included Jump Start Golf on Friday, which gave Founding, Super Big Heart, Big Heart and Grand Sponsors the opportunity to hit the links in a round with celebrity guests; Saturday’s golf clinic with World Golf Hall of Famer Chi Chi Rodriguez and golf pro and PGA Tour winner Mark Pfeil; and tennis clinic and tournament, led by Hall of Famers Wendy Turnbull and Virginia Wade and tennis pros John Lloyd and Duby Petrovich. Young guests also participated in a special themed Kids & Teens Program that included day and evening activities.
 
In addition to spending time on the greens and the courts, Classic attendees opened their wallets for the chance to drive off with an array of incredible prizes. JM Family Enterprises and Southeast Toyota Distributors donated a 2018 Toyota C-HR for the raffle. The winning ticket belonged to Bill Elsey of JM&A Group. The Silent Auction featured a 2018 Harley-Davidson Road Glide, valued at more than $20,000. Proceeds from the motorcycle auction will go to 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. 

Celebrity Ki-Jana Carter, a former NFL running back with the Cincinnati Bengals, Washington Redskins and the New Orleans Saints won the 2017 Jim Moran Classic Mystery Prize, a brand-new 2017 EZ-GO 36 Volt Electric Golf Cart, a beautiful set of his and hers Cobra Golf Clubs and four dozen YATC embossed Taylor Made golf balls.
 
Sponsors of the 2017 Jim Moran Classic included: Founding Sponsor: The Cross Country Group; Super Big Heart Sponsors: Auto Carrier Express and Jan Moran; Big Heart Sponsors: 22squared, Centurion Auto Logistics, Inc., Maus Nissan/David Maus/Gib Dannehower, O’Brien Automotive Team, Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Harley-Davidson and Daytona Toyota/Gib Dannehower; Grand Sponsors: 3Cinteractive, Corp., CDK Global Inc. and Toyota Motor North America.
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 skills, 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 S.W. Third Ave., Deerfield Beach, Fla.