The Right Man for the Job

Dave Hutton builds an MDA legacy

Dave Hutton at the 2007 Telethon national broadcast, with California Goodwill Ambassador Abbey Umali (right) and McCallister Selva, daughter of MDA National Vice-President Bert Selva of Shea Homes
by Kathy Wechsler on November 1, 2007 - 4:42pm

QUEST Vol. 14, No. 6

David L. Hutton of Granada Hills, Calif., goes the extra mile to support MDA and its mission to eradicate neuromuscular diseases — whether by raising money for research and services, encouraging new sponsors to join the cause, or actively involving himself with the people MDA serves.

A member of the MDA Board of Directors since 2004, Hutton, a 40-year veteran of the automotive retail industry, recently retired as president of Miller Automotive Group, a subsidiary of Group One Automotive. Under Hutton’s leadership, all 10 Los Angeles Miller Automotive dealerships took up the MDA cause.

A longtime friend to MDA

During the 1991 Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon, Hutton raised funds for MDA by donating $100 for every car sold that weekend at the Culver City Toyota dealership where he was general manager. Eventually, this Sale-a-Thon became a Labor Day tradition for the whole Van Nuys-based group of auto dealerships.

Hutton and his wife, Helen, have a grown son and daughter, Kerry Hutton and Teresa Moreira, and a grandson, Emerson Moreira, 8.

Every year, Hutton brings Emerson to the Los Angeles Telethon broadcast to do the check presentation from the Sale-a-Thon. This year, he presented a $38,000 check on behalf of Miller Automotive Group.

Hutton joined the MDA Los Angeles executive committee in 1992, working with local MDA staff to plan fund-raising events and develop other ways to support the Association. Hutton, who served on the committee for seven years, actively recruited local automotive dealerships to partner with MDA.

Helen and Dave Hutton with Alexis Villa
Helen and Dave Hutton with Alexis Villa (front/center)

In 2003, Hutton became an MDA national vice president, a volunteer position in which he used his skills from the Los Angeles executive committee on a much larger scale. He headed a committee to encourage automotive dealerships across the country to hold fund-raising events for MDA, and kept recruiting dealerships even after he took on new responsibilities as an MDA Board member in 2004.

“It was a natural progression,” Hutton says. “I loved MDA and had been working for MDA for a long time and wanted to get more involved.”

Hutton now serves on the Board’s finance committee, where he puts to use the financial knowledge gained during his years in the auto dealership business.

Harold C. Crump, who’s served on the Board’s Finance Committee since 1995, says Hutton is a great addition.

“Dave brings to the Board the enthusiasm of a very successful businessman. He’s a person who has pulled his way up personally through the business world, and as a result of that, he knows the difference between winning and losing. He knows how to win, and he brings that knowledge to our Board.”

Hutton says he most enjoys “being able to make decisions on grants, and requests that help other people, that help fund research both scientific and medical. You’re a lot closer to making things happen on the Board, because you can make decisions to spend money to fund critical research, and push along all the stuff that we’re working on.”

A dedicated man

Hutton is active in other volunteer activities as well. Eight years ago, he started a literacy program in which he and other Miller Automotive employees visit local elementary schools and read to students. In addition, they buy books for the students and sponsor essay contests to improve literacy among inner city children.

In March 2008, Hutton will make his sixth trip to the Amazon jungle in Brazil, to work with the Yanomami tribe through the CrossWorld organization. The goal of the project is to build medical clinics and churches, and buy medical supplies and other essentials.

To show his support for MDA, Hutton attends as many local MDA events as possible, from golf tournaments and Aisles of Smiles kickoffs to VIP days at MDA summer camp. On Labor Day weekend he attends the national Telethon broadcast in Las Vegas, then hurries back to Los Angeles in time to appear on his local Telethon broadcast as well.

An MDA family man

Hutton’s friendships with MDA families carry over outside of fund-raising events as well.

When taking Emerson to the circus, Disneyland or other live productions, the Huttons often invite children with neuromuscular disease, such as Alexis Villa, 12, and Abbey Umali, 8, and their families to join the fun. Sometimes they even invite staff from the local MDA office.

“MDA board member” may be Hutton’s official title, but his love of the Association and the people it serves goes well beyond words — it’s embedded in his heart.

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