Okotoks - Helping others has become a way of life for an Okotoks family – and getting recognition for it is just an unexpected bonus.
“We do it to help raise the community,” said Rory Wood, Okotoks Ford Lincoln general manager. “If we just keep taking and not giving back, the society just doesn’t grow.
“You have to give to get.”
The Wood family received the Outstanding Philanthropic Family Generosity Spirit Award in May presented by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Calgary and Area chapter.
The family was nominated by the Mount Royal Transitional Vocational program, which Rory’s mother, Elaine, helped start.
Since 1980, the Transitional Vocational Program at Mount Royal University has been providing a variety of post-secondary programs to adults with developmental disabilities. Rory’s sister, Megan, a graduate of the MRU program, has Down syndrome.
“It’s there to help everybody, it all kind of blends together as one whole process to help families that are in need or people who have disabilities make that next step to being self-sufficient,” Rory said of the program. “That is something I think we all want.
“Everybody wants a reason to get up in the morning and this helps them do that.”
Megan completed the MRU program with a diploma in disability studies and graphic design.
“That was something that she was interested in, but the other side is she can be a tutor for people with disabilities as well and help them with what she was taught,” Rory said.
The philanthropy in the Wood family goes back a wee way.
“My grandfather in Scotland created a business that converted cars to hand control for veterans after the war because they needed help,” Rory said. “He converted one car to foot control because a veteran lost both arms.
“That’s where it started, but when my sister was born it helped bring things to the next level. It’s a bit different when it is happening in your family unit.”
The Woods set out in some small way to help families with Down syndrome children.
Gerry Wood, the founder of the Wood Automotive Group, was named to the Order of Canada in 2019.
He has lived in the Okotoks area for more than 30 years — and held the distinction of being the chieftain of the Foothills Highland Games in the late 2000s.
He raised his family for the most part in Okotoks, after working at a car dealership in Calgary and then buying a dealership in Vulcan.
Okotoks Ford Lincoln is part of Wood Automotive Group which has eight full-service dealerships.
Okotoks is home to Rory and his family.
“I grew up playing hockey, baseball here until I was about 13 and then I came back every summer to hang out here,” Rory said. “When I had enough money to buy a house I moved back here. It feels like home.”
The family has supported several projects in Okotoks from hockey tournaments to the Foothills Country Hospice car rally. The Woods have also been huge supporters of the Prep Inclusion for Life program where families with a child with Down syndrome can receive advice and innovative services.
The Wood family is Gerry, Elaine, Rory, Cailean, wife Amy, and Megan.
Read more from OkotoksToday.ca