When the Lower Mainland was called upon to raise funds and run into the icy waters of the Pacific Ocean in support of Special Olympics, Gregory Keith and the Dueck Auto Group leapt to answer the bell. The Keith family joined a team of Dueck superheroes in the inaugural Vancouver Polar Plunge for Special Olympics BC on March 5, another inspiring example in a long line of demonstrations of their generous support of Special Olympics athletes and programs.
In addition to championing participation in the Polar Plunge, Dueck Vice President Gregory Keith gives his time to raise funds and awareness for Special Olympics by serving on the Organizing Committee for the Goldcorp Invitational Golf Tournament, supporting the New Car Dealers Foundation / Special Olympics BC Auction, and helping launch new fundraising events such as the NFL Fantasy Football Charity Dinner and Draft, where he served as Chair.
Keith’s impactful involvement is part of his family’s tradition of generosity to Special Olympics. SOBC Past Chair Pamela Keith and Dueck Auto Group President Moray Keith make a difference in a variety of fundraising events and initiatives, and Gregory’s sister Courtney Keith is a dedicated coach of the SOBC – Delta rhythmic gymnastics program.
Gregory Keith has a background in sport, having starred in the BCHL with the Chilliwack Chiefs and earned a full-ride hockey scholarship to the University of Denver, where he played a key part in helping the Pioneers earn their first NCAA National Championship in more than 35 years. He knows the power of Special Olympics for individuals with intellectual disabilities, has seen athletes of all ages developing confidence and skills through their sport programs and competitions, and he knows his support makes a difference.
“You really can see a change in the athletes … and sport really brings them together,” Keith says.
After an injury cut short Keith’s hockey career, he returned to the automotive world armed with a business and marketing degree from the University of Denver. He completed a degree in automotive management at Northwood Automotive University and joined the family business in June 2006, beginning as General Manager of the Dueck Downtown location and steadily rising in responsibility and authority within Dueck Auto Group.
Currently, Keith is busy as Vice President and General Manager of Dueck Richmond, spending his days moving between all stores.
Keith said supporting Special Olympics has become “a fun thing our whole family is involved in,” and he has been hooked by the genuine appreciation and joy of the athletes.
“I really enjoy seeing their excitement,” Keith says. “It is such a great cause, and you can see the difference you make.”
Involvement in the Polar Plunge was a new addition to his family’s tradition of support of Special Olympics, and they helped the inaugural event raise more than $30,000 for SOBC. With 90 Plungers and teams of law enforcement members freezin’ for a reason at Kitsilano Beach, Team Dueck was the top fundraising team and Gregory Keith was the top individual fundraiser, while Dueck Auto Group sponsored the VIP warming tent.
In addition to their fundraising success, the Dueck team rocked the spirit department with their superhero style. Dueck staff embraced the event, overcoming initial trepidation about taking the plunge by building momentum with their great costumes and fundraising. Twelve staff members took the plunge, joined by 10-15 friends of Gregory Keith, who said it was great for everyone to “do something that got them out of their comfort zones.
“Everybody had a great time,” he said.
To learn more about the Polar Plunge and join Dueck in getting bold and cold for a great cause, visit www.plunge4specialolympics.com
This article originally appeared in the New Car Dealers Association of B.C. publication Signals. With this series SOBC is turning the spotlight on individual dealers who so generously support our athletes and our organization.