Monster trucks and cancer research, oh my!

Monster trucks and breast cancer research? It takes far-reaching vision and generous hearts to see the connection. Longtime V Foundation supporter, Hooters, and a man named Rich Grabits saw the link and are making an important difference.

All throughout month of October, Hooters called on America once again to Give A Hoot in the fight against breast cancer. As a part of its annual fundraising program during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Hooters auctioned off a custom monster truck with 100 percent of the bid contributing to the Give A Hoot fundraising effort. Rich Grabits, a 45-year-old mechanical worker from Brilliant, Ohio, is now the proud owner of the custom Hooters 2008 GMC C4500 Monster Truck after placing the winning bid—which stems not only from his passion for cars, but from a deep-rooted love for his family.

Don’t get me wrong – being a car enthusiast runs in Rich Grabits’ blood. His family even owns a personal stock car track! So he anxiously watched the auction all week. I can only imagine his excitement when he placed what would ultimately be the winning bid during the last two seconds of the auction!

But supporting the Hooters Give A Hoot program also resonated with Rich on a much deeper level. Cancer has touched both his father and sister, and his mother courageously survived breast cancer for more than 40 years. He plans to take the highly sought-after truck to car shows and later pass it on to his nine-year-old son Cooper when he’s old enough to drive.

In 2014, Hooters Girls across the globe held fundraising events and collected donations to raise a record-setting $661,824. Over the course of their partnership with The V Foundation, Hooters Girls and their generous guests have raised more than $3 million to support breast cancer research. Much of these funds were in support of a V Foundation grant in honor of the late Kelly Jo Dowd, one of the original Hooters Girls who graced the cover of the 1995 Hooters Calendar. Always an inspiration to her fellow Hooters Girls, Kelly Jo valiantly battled breast cancer for five years before succumbing in 2007. Throughout her struggle she was courageous and selfless, becoming an advocate for early detection, education and fundraising. Kelly Jo’s influence on Hooters culture of service remains as strong as ever.

It is the collective passion of brands like Hooters and the personal drive of individuals like Mr. Grabits that come together in unique ways to make an impact in the fight against cancer. Creative problem solving will be the key to finding and funding the cures.