This article was published in partnership with Land Rover.
Most people who do service work aren’t in it for the glory. But that doesn’t mean the positive change created in our communities by non-profit organizations should go unrecognized.
Enter the Defender Service Awards, an annual program created by Land Rover honoring service organizations in North America that are making a significant impact. For 2023, Defender Service Awards, along with their sponsors, will commemorate six standout service organizations. Each awardee will receive $25,000 and a custom Defender 130 SUV. And voting is now open.
“The ‘Defender Service Awards’ are a beloved initiative that we are proud to bring back for a third year. Celebrating the organizations that make a difference in our communities speaks to the core of the Defender brand that it is most powerful when it’s on a mission to help others,” said Joe Eberhardt, President and CEO of Jaguar Land Rover North America.
Watch our compelling video featuring SAUVETAGE BÉNÉVOLE OUTAOUAIS – OTTAWA VOLUNTEER SEARCH AND RESCUE, a 2022 Defender Service Award Winner.
Ottawa Volunteer Search and Rescue (4:10)
Eligible service organizations submitted videos up to three minutes long describing their mission and how a Defender 130 SUV would help them make an even greater impact. A panel of judges then selected five finalists across five different categories of service work who best represent the Defender spirit.
On September 14, Land Rover announced the 25 finalists for 2023. All 25 receive $5,000 donation from Defender Service Awards sponsors CHASE and $2,500 from Warner Bros. Discovery.
Now it’s up to the public to decide which finalists should be awarded $25,000 and a custom Defender 130 SUV. Anyone can participate. Go to the Defender Service Awards website and click “Vote Now” to watch the finalists’ videos. You can cast up to one vote per day, per category, for the organization you feel most deserves to win.
The six winners—one from each category, plus a sixth organization chosen from among previous years’ non-winners—will be announced at Destination Defender, a weekend celebration of the Defender Lifestyle at Iron Horse Ranch in Somerville, TX, Defender will host a special gala event the evening of Nov 11, announcing the winners and honoring the tenacity of North America’s service workers.
Here’s a sneak peek at the 25 finalists, listed in alphabetical order by category.
Animal, Wildlife & Marine Welfare Award (Presented by Animal Planet)
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and this category salutes those who work tirelessly to protect and conserve animal, wildlife, and marine mammal welfare. These champions devote their lives to preserving our planet’s precious biodiversity.
Appalachian Wildlife Refuge in Candler, NC, gives injured and orphaned wildlife animals in Western North Carolina a second chance at life by providing a place for care and treatment.
Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network in North Charleston, SC, protects dolphins, whales, and seals in South Carolina waters. The Lowcountry is home to approximately 350 year-round resident dolphins.
Manitoba Underdogs Rescue Inc. in Winnipeg, MB, runs a 600-volunteer strong foster home- based dog rescue serving the province of Manitoba. To-date, they’ve rescued more than 3,500 animals.
Midwest Animal ResQ in Raytown, MO, is a foster-based rescue group serving the Greater Kansas City Area. They also operate an adoption center and an animal sanctuary.
Sea Turtle Inc. in South Padre Island, TX, has been working to protect sea turtles through conservation, medical care, applied research, and education since 1977.
Community Services Award (Presented by ei3)
Here, Land Rover applauds organizations that tackle critical social issues within their communities, from fighting food insecurity and homelessness, to empowering seniors, to protecting the natural environment.
Chattahoochee Riverkeeper in Mableton, GA, works to ensure there’s enough clean water in the Chattahoochee River—now and for future generations—through research, monitoring, education, and advocacy.
Connecting Kids to Meals in Toledo, OH, provides hot, nutritious meals at no cost to children in low-income and underserved areas year-round. Since 2002, the organization has served more than 6 million meals to kids in need.
Enjoy Detroit in Detroit, MI, makes creating positive change in Metro Detroit cool for kids through high-energy volunteer efforts and consistent involvement in city rehabilitation activities and initiatives.
Kairos Adventures Inc. in Casselberry, FL, empowers people with disabilities to discover and develop their unique potential and purpose. The organization envisions a world where all people are seen, known, and celebrated.
LiveOnNY in Queens, NY, facilitates life-saving organ donations, educates the community on the power of organ donation, cares for the families of organ donors, and advocates on behalf of those awaiting transplants.
Outdoor Accessibility & Education Award (Presented by OUTSIDE Interactive, Inc.)
This category acknowledges organizations committed to promoting outdoor accessibility, adaptive sports programs, environmental education, and conservation efforts, honoring those who work to ensure everyone has the chance to enjoy nature.
Camp Rainbow Gold in Boise, ID, has a mission to provide emotionally empowering experiences to Idaho children diagnosed with cancer, and their families, through week-long camp programs offered year-round.
Idaho Trails Association in Boise, ID, builds and maintains Idaho’s extensive trail system, educates the public about land stewardship and leave-no-trace principles, and serves as a voice for Idaho’s hiking community.
The Bethlehem Center in Chattanooga, TN, dates back to 1920. “The Beth” runs a variety of programs and community outreach designed to foster spiritual growth, education, and leadership development for both youth and adults.
Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports in Killington, VT, empowers people with disabilities through inclusive, year-round sports and recreational activities, regardless of ability to pay. The organization’s programming includes access to state-of-the-art adaptive sports equipment.
Youth Sports Alliance in Park City, UT, aspires to empower dreams and build futures by introducing kids to sports and inspiring them to keep moving their bodies throughout their lives.
Search, Rescue & Emergency Support Services Award (Presented by PELICAN)
When disaster strikes and lives are at stake, heroes step up to provide crucial support. This category recognizes organizations involved in remote area search and rescue, natural disaster support, firefighting, and other emergency services facing dangerous situations.
Allegheny Mountain Rescue Group in Pittsburgh, PA, has been offering support to government agencies responsible for lost- and injured-person incidents since 1985. The organization not only helps locate, access, stabilize, and transport patients in wilderness settings, but also aids in searches for suspected crime victims, and evidence.
Resources in Search & Rescue, Inc. in Monroe, CT, is a team of nationally certified canines and their handlers who assist official agencies in recovering lost persons in the wilderness, missing children, Alzheimer’s patients, drowning victims, homicide/suicide victims, victims of burned structures or downed aircraft, and victims of natural disasters.
Squamish Search & Rescue Society in Squamish, BC, is made up of more than 80 volunteer members who devote thousands of hours of their personal time to training, and who respond to over 100 calls each year to assist lost or injured skiers, hikers, climbers, and kayakers in the region’s rugged backcountry.
Taos Search & Rescue in Taos, NM, trains and maintains ten highly specialized units that execute search and rescue operations across all of New Mexico’s diverse backcountry terrain, from the mountains to the high desert to the Rio Grande River Gorge.
TEXSAR in Wimberley, TX, deploys statewide at the request of local, state, and federal agencies to provide highly specialized services including search and rescue, flood and swiftwater rescue, incident management, and wildland fire response.
Veteran & Civil Servant Outreach Award (Presented by Hearts & Science)
This category salutes the men and women who’ve served our country and protected our communities, honoring organizations that offer vital support to military veterans, firefighters, first responders, and police officers injured in action.
Big Red Barn Retreat in Blythewood, SC, offers integrated practices and programs that help active-duty service members, veterans, and first responders thrive. Offerings range from tai chi to farm-to-table cooking classes to seven-day transformative trainings like Warrior PATHH, all at no cost.
Calgary Veterans Services Society in Calgary, AB, aids veterans in need of short-term services like food, money, and clothing, and helps them develop a path to self-sufficiency through job boards, training opportunities, nature retreats, and therapy.
Heroes Homestead in Clayton, WA, runs a family farm that hosts unique workshops and events designed to help fortify not only active-duty service members, veterans, and first responders, but also their families.
Honour House Society in New Westminster, BC, provides 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.
Warriors Choice Foundation in Jupiter, FL, serves combat veterans struggling with PTSD, mental illness, and catastrophic injuries. The organization provides trained service dogs, ancillary medical services, alternative wellness retreats and education, and recreational retreats.
Visit the Defender Service Awards website to learn more about these hard-working organizations and cast your vote.