Jerry Clark and Michael

Jerry Clark is pictured here on the right along side of his lifelong friend and athlete Michael Heup

If you are looking for an evening that combines fun with raising money for Special Olympics Maryland (SOMD), then consider joining us on April 25th for the 4th Annual Al Packer’s Ford Casino Night. Under the leadership of Al Packer’s General Manager Jerry Clark working with the SOMD team combined with support from NSA Marketing, efforts are accelerating to enhance the experience and grow the event to include over 700 attendees at this year’s event. Once again Joe Flacco is scheduled to appear at the event and will be joined by Dennis Pitta at a designated photo opportunity area for those who attend. Special Olympics Maryland athletes will be on hand to great attendees and share their stories during this event that raises money to support 7,169 athletes who train and compete in 27 sports year-round across the state.

This event exemplifies the power of Special Olympics Maryland to transform lives. In 2012, Jerry Clark advanced the idea of hosting the event by taking his showroom along with several tents to convert his dealership into a welcoming, fun Casino Night venue. While the event has raised nearly $100,000 in its first three years it is equally notable for influencing Jerry’s life in a way that he never predicted as he is relentless in his year-round support of SOMD. Most profoundly, Jerry has forged what will be lifelong friendships with Special Olympics Maryland athletes like Michael Heup.

Jerry first met Michael at the 2013 Casino Night when Michael and his mom shared their story with the Casino Night crowd. After witnessing Michael’s enthusiastic personality, Jerry invited Michael and his mom to address his entire Al Packer’s Ford team during lunch meeting hosted in the showroom.  Michael and his mom left a lasting impression on Jerry’s team at lunch that day which inspired Jerry to invite Michael to join the team as a customer relations representative. Michael now serves in that capacity on Saturday’s from mid-March through the fall. Michael arrives early for the sales meeting and provides a Saturday morning pep talk before roaming the dealership to make sure all the customers are being taken care of.

In turn, Jerry and his team support SOMD special events throughout the year. Jerry extends his efforts looking for opportunities that will help raise awareness and funds for SOMD. Thanks to Jerry we were the beneficiary of the Jacoby Jones Golf Tournament run by NSA Marketing last year.  Additionally, Jerry integrated SOMD and the Plunge in his Ravens Walk display area at homes games this past season. Jerry and Al Packer’s Ford team members run the Fort McHenry Tunnel Run and Plunge in January. Jerry attends competitions including Summer Games at Towson University. He is always looking for ways to help to our athletes and support the mission. As a result of this steadfast support and commitment, Jerry was appointed to the SOMD Board of Directors and this year started his first term. Special Olympics Maryland athletes are fortunate to have Jerry’s support but he will be the first to tell you that he gets far more out of his involvement than he gives. If you want to see the transformative power of a driven man combined with Special Olympics join us on April 25th and see how Jerry and our athletes work together to build inclusive communities of dignity and respect.

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