RECAP: 39th Annual Drive for Life Foundation Charity Gala


The 39th Annual Drive for Life Gala Raises Over $800,000 for Charity

The 39th Annual Drive for Life Foundation Charity Gala surpassed its initial goal of raising $750,000 by bringing in over $800,000 for charity. The event, which took place on Monday, September 13, 2021 at the Radisson Plaza Hotel at Kalamazoo Center, featured special guest speaker and NBA Hall of Famer Ben Wallace. The night's big winner, Beth Kalleward, won the charity raffle, opting to walk away with $30,000 in cash over the 2021 Honda Accord option.

 (Aaron J. Zeigler, Ben Wallace & Sam D'Arc at the 39th Annual Drive for Life Foundation Gala)  

Kalamazoo, Michigan (September 14, 2021) - The 39th Annual Drive for Life Foundation Charity Gala-presented by Zeigler Auto Group, Huntington Bank, Brown & Brown Dealer Services, and Greenleaf Trust-surpassed its initial goal of raising $750,000 by bringing in more than $800,000 for its benefiting charities. 

The event was hosted by Zeigler Auto Group president Aaron J. Zeigler, and featured newly inducted Hall of Famer Ben Wallace as the night's special guest speaker. After his speech, the five-time All-NBA selection, four-time defensive player of the year participated in the gala's live auction portion donating several signed basketballs and an autographed Pistons jersey to help raise money. The live auction also included a Racing Experience with Josh Bilicki of Rick Ware Racing's NASCAR team. 

This year's benefiting organizations included the American Cancer Society, Make-a-Wish Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Michigan, MRC Industries of Kalamazoo, Gull Lake Community Schools, Family Camps, the American Heart Association, Sherman Lake YMCA, K C Ready 4S, Southwest Michigan Miracle League, Wings of Mercy, Chef Therapeutic Riding Center, Walk Tall Foundation for Kids, and Family & Children Services.

"We have been lucky enough to be a beneficiary of the Drive For Life Foundation for many years, and having their support has been instrumental in keeping our mission of freeing the world of cancer alive. The donations we receive from this event helps us offer support year-round for those in our community who need it most," said Cindy Kovacik, senior development manager of the American Cancer Society of Kalamazoo.

Beth Kalleward won the big raffle drawing of the night, taking home the $30,000 grand prize. Other winners walked away with a private helicopter tour, a hot air balloon ride, Little Caesars arena suite access for 10, a private jet ride and suite access at Lambeau stadium, a 114-foot luxury yacht trip for six people for four days and three nights, and much more.


"It's very important that our community come out and support us because it takes a community. You know it's not a job for one man nor is it a job for one organization, this is a job for the community. We can't sit back and wait for someone to take care of us, we have to do it ourselves," said Wallace when asked about the importance of joining the fight against cancer and helping support the Drive for Life Foundation's local charities through this year's Drive for Life Foundation Charity Gala.

2021 Event Recap Video

2021 Beneficiaries

2021 Sponsors


For nearly four decades, the Drive for Life Gala has attracted the support of business leaders, sponsors and volunteers; bringing the Kalamazoo community together for an extraordinary night of charity. 

The Drive for Life Gala debuted in 1982 with a starting ticket price of just $1, raising less than $20,000 for the American Cancer Society. Today, the annual Drive for Life Gala is presented by Zeigler Auto Group, Brown & Brown Dealer Services, Greenleaf Trust and Huntington Bank; and benefits the American Cancer Society and other local charities with over hundreds of thousands in annual support.


Zeigler Automotive Group is one of the largest privately-owned dealer groups in the U.S. with 78 franchises across 35 locations in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. Vehicle brands represented include all of the domestic and the majority of the imported manufacturers.


Besides its extensive automotive portfolio, the organization owns and operates Zeigler Motorsports, an 85,000-square-foot motorsports dealership and action park, offering 19 different powersports brands, plus its own onsite restaurant: Trak Houz Bar & Grill. Additionally, Zeigler Motorsports houses the Elevate Leadership & Team Building Academy, an executive training company.


The Kalamazoo-based dealer group also owns and operates Zeigler Pre-Owned of Chicago, a Carquest Auto Parts store, three Byrider franchises, three finance companies, several insurance firms, and a leasing firm.


Founded in 1975, the organization employs over 2,300 people, ranking among the top 1% of automotive dealers in the nation with estimated annual sales of $2.2 billion for 2022. The family-owned and operated company is well known for its commitment to both customer service and employee satisfaction. Zeigler is regularly recognized as one of the Best and Brightest Companies to Work for in the Nation, also earning similar accolades in Chicago and Michigan.