In honor of their continuous support of the Santa Clarita community, the College of the Canyons Foundation named Don and Cheri Fleming the recipients of the 2019 Silver Spur Community Service Award at Saturday’s sold-out Silver Spur Celebration at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
“It’s absolutely incredible,” Don Fleming said. “This is a great honor, and we never thought we would win this award — we’re so pleased and, honestly, speechless.”
“It is truly the biggest honor that Don and I could ever imagine winning,” Cheri Fleming said. “We join an alumni of past winners that are people that have taught us so much and that we have looked up to for the past 22 years.”
Since moving to the area in 1997 and purchasing Valencia Acura, the Flemings have dedicated themselves to helping their new community and the COC Foundation, college officials said.
“Don and Cheri made an excellent choice for the Silver Spur Award because of all they’ve done in the community and because of how supportive they are of the students that go to COC,” said Diana Cusumano, board member for the COC Foundation and chair of the 2019 Silver Spur event.
When the couple purchased the dealership, it was ranked last in sales and customer satisfaction nationally among Acura dealers, according to school officials. Since then, it has become one of the top Acura dealerships in customer loyalty and sales penetration, and it has been instrumental in making local auto dealers the largest sales tax contributors to the city.
“Santa Clarita is different, and I think that it’s because people generally have a really positive attitude and are willing to invest in helping make things possible,” COC Chancellor Dianne G. Van Hook said. “The Flemings embody, through their actions, their attitude and their resilience what makes Santa Clarita what it is. They aren’t investing for the return for themselves, they’re investing for the return on the greater good, which is why they are deserving.”
Both Don and Cheri have served as leaders on the boards of charitable organization like the Henry Mayo Newhall Health Foundation, American Cancer Society, Child & Family Center, SCV Chamber of Commerce, and Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley, and consequently earned the title of SCV Man and Woman of the Year in 2004. It was only the second time in 40 years that a husband and wife had shared the award in the same year.
“Our city has a balanced budget, a rainy day fund, a AAA bond credit rating, low crime rates and great schools,” Don said. “To me, that’s all worth fighting for. We’re very proud of this place.”
The Flemings have supported the college’s commitment to higher education for more than 20 years, and contributed to many of the foundation’s significant initiatives, COC officials said.
“Education really is the change maker for anyone who can truly make dreams come true, no matter what that dream is,” Cheri said.
The festivities began at 6:30 p.m. with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres surrounded by some of the museum’s finest cars, and continued with dinner and a live auction, which will support the needs of homeless students, according to Cusumano. The evening concluded with a video tribute created for the Flemings.
“This evening is such a tribute because so many people wanted to be a part of it,” Cusumano said.
To learn more about the College of the Canyons Foundation, visit https://www.canyons.edu/offices/foundation/Pages/default.asp.