January 20, 2012

More than 69,000 votes from around the country were received for the 3rd Annual Fox Valley Volkswagen LOVEbug “Share the Love” contest. On January 20th, at the grand finale event, Connie Hankins of Naperville and nonprofit organization Children’s Oncology Services were each awarded a brand new 2012 Volkswagen Beetle! In its third year, the LOVEbug “Share the Love” contest allows the public to nominate a deserving Chicagoan, plus select their favorite nonprofit to both win a 2012 Volkswagen Beetle.  


“Fox Valley Volkswagen believes in community and wanted to show it in a big way,” said Emir Abinion, President of Fox Valley Volkswagen, who hosted the contest. “It is an amazing feeling to be able to give to people making such a difference in their local communities.” Abinion owns two Volkswagen dealerships and a GMC/Buick dealership. This year, Abinion doubled his donation by expanding the program to nonprofits to help with their fundraising efforts. According to Abinion, Fox Valley Volkswagen was overwhelmed by all of the amazing stories from Chicagoans making such an impact. All finalists in attendance at the grand finale event received a $250 gift certificate from the dealership.


Winner Connie Hankins has been building and modifying trikes for children with special needs since 1996 when she got involved with the Pioneers, her husband's retirement organization. They had a tricycle project that appealed to Connie because of her background as a retired Registered Nurse and her love of children. Since then, around 70 children a year have benefited from receiving a free tricycle; nearly 1,000 children to date. Many of the children cannot pedal a regular trike, so special back supports with safety belts, and foot containments that hold their feet on the pedals are added to each trike; along with upright handlebars if needed.  According to Connie, this is a very fulfilling and worthwhile project because of the impact it has on the children's lives. It gives them excellent therapy, freedom, and ultimately sheer joy.


The nonprofit winner Children’s Oncology Services (COSI) is a leader in providing educational and outreach camp programs for children with cancer. Their One Step At a Time Summer Camp offers 10 camp programs throughout the year designed to meet the emotional, educational, and support needs of the pediatric cancer patients and their families. COSI hosted over 500 children in 2010 helping them to make friendships for life, giving them confidence, and offering them a diversion from their illness. 


85 stories were submitted for the contest and 20 nonprofits competed. The ten individual finalists included Aschley Hopkins Yanda, Concetta Colella, Connie Hankins, Elizabeth Pagan, Gary Ramey, Glenn Williams, Katie Niemerg, Lisa Hawley, Lisa Lentz and Noel Dominguez. With the nonprofit top finalists of A Safe Haven, CASA of DuPage County, Inc., Children’s Oncology Services, Inc., Clearbrook, Fox Valley Christian Action, Lazarus House, Naperville Area Humane Society, People’s Resource Center, Tri City Health Partnership and We Grow Dreams, Inc.

Watch the winners reactions below!

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