Philanthropy is as deeply ingrained in the annual Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auctions as a passion for one-of-a-kind wheels. Since the world-renowned car show began, co-founder Russ Jackson, his wife Nellie, and sons Craig and Brian focused on giving back to their communities and raising awareness and funds for a variety of charitable causes including Childhelp, TGen, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. In fact, the first auction Russ Jackson and Tom Barrett put on in 1967, the “Fiesta de los Autos Elegantes,” was a fundraiser for local charities including the Scottsdale Library.
The family philanthropy legacy continues, with Barrett-Jackson CEO Craig Jackson’s wife, Carolyn Jackson, who serves as vice president of brand strategy for the company, leading their charitable efforts. That includes her work on a year-long campaign called Driven Hearts and serving as chairman of the 59th annual Phoenix Heart Ball. We recently caught up with Carolyn Jackson to get details on Driven Hearts, the upcoming 2019 Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction in Scottsdale, and more.
What are your responsibilities as vice president of brand strategy at Barrett-Jackson?
I oversee the company’s image as The World’s Greatest Collector Car Auctions, working to elevate not only the Barrett-Jackson brand through strategic partnerships and marketing, but also the entire guest experience at our unique automotive lifestyle events – particularly at our opening night galas.
What are your favorite things about the annual Barrett-Jackson collector car auctions?
We are so honored to be able to provide a platform where vehicles can be sold to benefit charitable organizations, both large and small, local and national. To date, nearly $105 million has been raised for many important causes. The moments those special cars are sold are hands-down my favorite part of every auction – there is so much excitement and emotion in the room, knowing that every penny of every sale price goes directly to each worthy organization. I am always amazed by the generosity and kindness of the collector car community, who donate and bid on these vehicles to provide this vital support.
Tell me about the Driven Hearts charity campaign that just wrapped up. What’s been happening with this initiative throughout the year?
When I began my tenure as chairman of the 59th annual Phoenix Heart Ball, my focus was on the mission of the American Heart Association and getting the message across about heart disease and stroke. When I learned that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of both men and women, yet it is 80 percent preventable, I realized immediately that Barrett-Jackson’s unique and highly visible platform could help both in terms of raising funds in a number of different ways as well as creating enormous awareness, and it has done just that. We launched the campaign at our 2018 Scottsdale Auction and carried it through our three other auctions across the country – in total, more than $1 million has been raised to date purely through the auction of vehicles to benefit the AHA, and even more through donations and purchase of special merchandise. Our guests will continue to learn about Driven Hearts through messaging at our 2019 Scottsdale Auction. Arizona residents can also purchase the first-ever state-issued Barrett-Jackson license plate, with a portion of each plate fee earmarked for the AHA.
What was the culmination of the Driven Hearts charity campaign this year?
The official Driven Hearts campaign through Barrett-Jackson wrapped up with the sale of three vehicles to benefit the cause at our 2018 Las Vegas Auction in late September – and ultimately the 59th annual Phoenix Heart Ball on November 17. My commitment to raise both funds and awareness for the AHA to educate others about heart disease and stroke will actually continue through the 2019 Scottsdale Auction, through the unique platform only Barrett-Jackson can provide.
What can you tell me about the cars that will be up for charity auction this year?
There will be approximately a dozen vehicles auctioned for charity at the 2019 Scottsdale Auction, including two to benefit important Arizona-based organizations – Barrow Neurological Foundation and Childhelp. Barrett-Jackson has been a longtime supporter of Childhelp’s Drive the Dream Gala. 2019 marks the 60th anniversary of the organization and this year’s event will be chaired by Dr. Stacie and Richard Stephenson. Other exciting charity vehicles will be the VIN 001 2019 Ford GT Heritage Edition for the United Way, a classic Jeep to benefit the Gary Sinise Foundation and a 2015 Shelby GT350R – one of just 37 made – for the Petersen Museum and Henry Ford Museum. A very thrilling moment is sure to be when the first global production unit of the 2020 Toyota Supra will be auctioned to benefit a very worthy cause (stay tuned to Barrett-Jackson.com for details as they become available).
Why do you feel it’s important to give back?
The great Martin Luther King once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” There are so many opportunities to help other people. I’m a firm believer in giving back; it’s something my parents instilled in me from an early age. Taking care of the community in which you live – and work – is as important as taking care of yourself, so volunteering in the community and becoming engaged in charitable work are high on my priority list and provide much balance in my life.
The Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction, WestWorld of Scottsdale, 16601 N. Pima Road, Scottsdale, 480.421.6694, barrett-jackson.com, various times Saturday, January 12, through Sunday, January 20, $12-$195.