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This article was produced in partnership with Land Rover
The world would be a very different place without the non-profit and volunteer organizations that tirelessly work to create positive change. The annual Defender Service Awards, presented by CHASE, aims to shine a light on these often unsung heroes by honoring six of the toughest, most resilient, most impactful service organizations across North America. The Defender Service Awards takes its name from the company’s eponymous all-terrain SUV, a vehicle long associated with humanitarian missions all over the globe.
“Celebrating the organizations that make a difference in our communities speaks to the core of the Defender brand—that it’s most powerful when it’s on a mission to help others,” says Joe Eberhardt, president and CEO of Jaguar Land Rover North America.
Defender, alongside award partners Chase, Warner Bros. Discovery, Animal Planet, ei3, PELICAN, Hearts & Science, and Outside Interactive Inc., announced the six winners on November 11. The winners were selected by public vote, from a group of finalists across six categories. Each winning organization received $25,000 from their category sponsor and a custom Defender 130 to further aid its “unwavering commitment to bettering the local community.”
Here are the six winners of the 2023 Defender Service Awards, listed by category. Learn more and view each organization’s entry video here.
1. Animal, Wildlife & Marine Mammal Welfare Award
Manitoba Underdogs Rescue Inc. in Winnipeg, MB, runs a 600-volunteer strong foster home-based dog rescue that serves the province of Manitoba. The remote northern communities lack the resources and information to properly control the pet population, leaving countless animals without basic necessities like food, water, shelter, and medical attention. To-date, the organization has rescued more than 3,500 animals. Manitoba Underdogs also performs spay and neuter clinics, provides medical care for animals in need, and performs year-round rescues, even in -40 degree winter temperatures.
2. Community Service Award
Presented by ei3
Kairos Adventures Inc. in Casselberry, FL, empowers people with disabilities to discover and develop their unique potential and purpose. The organization offers innovative programs in the arts—including music, drama, dance, martial arts, culinary arts, and video production—as well as local exploration opportunities and community service projects. The ancient Greek word kairos refers to the right time for crucial action, and the organization believes that by being present and engaged in a community that empowers and elevates artists, we all experience moments of kairos every single day.
3. Outdoor Accessibility & Education Award
Presented by OUTSIDE Interactive Inc.
Youth Sports Alliance in Park City, UT, introduces kids to a healthy lifestyle through sports, inspiring them to keep moving their bodies throughout their lives. The organization runs after-school programs and provides scholarships, proper athletic clothing, gear, instruction, and transportation to ensure that all students in the community have access to its programs. More than 2,400 kids participated last year, including 30 percent from minority groups, a quarter from low-income families, and a growing number of students with cognitive or physical challenges.
4. Search, Rescue & Emergency Services Award
Presented by Pelican
Squamish Search & Rescue Society in Squamish, BC, provides ground and inland water search and rescue services, wilderness public safety, and emergency services on the unceded traditional territory of the Squamish Nation. Its 80-member team is entirely volunteer, and one of the busiest in Canada thanks to a vast response area covering a variety of diverse terrain including whitewater rivers, high-alpine peaks and glaciers, massive rock faces, and extensive mountain biking and hiking trails. The organization puts in more than 6,400 task hours a year responding to calls to assist lost or injured skiers, hikers, mountaineers, mountain bikers, climbers, and kayakers.
5. Veterans & Civil Servant Outreach Award
Presented by Hearts & Science
Honour House Society in New Westminster, BC, offers accommodations for members of the Canadian military, veterans, and emergency services personnel and their families to stay, free of charge, while they’re receiving medical care and treatment in the Metro Vancouver area. It also runs Honour Ranch, a tranquil, 120-acre rural retreat where these heroes and their families can discover cutting-edge strategies in the treatment of operational stress injuries such as PTSD, empowering them to be better-equipped to navigate the emotional and physical stresses of living a life committed to service.