Franklin car dealership gives $30K to local cancer charity

FRANKLIN – Since its founding six years ago, Sails Up 4 Cancer has donated thousands of dollars to organizations, including the Children’s Cancer Research Fund and the Visiting Nurses Association of Southeast Connecticut.

It also has helped dozens of New London County cancer patients pay their bills and put food on the table.

On Tuesday morning, Bob Davis, a two-time cancer survivor, avid sailor and the founder and CEO of the nonprofit Sails Up 4 Cancer, accepted the charity’s largest donation yet.

The Holmgren family, of Holmgren Subaru in Franklin, presented Davis with a check for nearly $31,000.

“It means the world,” Davis said shortly after accepting the donation at the New Park Avenue dealership. “It puts us over the top and gives us the ability to help, exponentially, more families … as they’re undergoing cancer treatments.”

The donation was the result of Subaru of America’s “Share the Love” campaign, in which a portion of each sale or lease of a Subaru during a specific time frame is donated to a retailer’s charity of choice.

Eric Holmgren, of Holmgren Subaru, said selecting Sails Up 4 Cancer as the campaign’s beneficiary for the last four years has been an easy choice.

“I liked how the money stayed local,” he said of the charity.

Also a boating enthusiast, Holmgren first met Davis through sailing more than a decade ago. The two became good friends.

“He’s just one of those people you meet who are incredibly positive and nothing gets them down,” Holmgren, of Mystic, said of Davis.

Along with awarding grants to large organizations such as Lawrence + Memorial Cancer Center and the Center for Hospice Care Southeast Connecticut, Sails Up 4 Cancer also supports, through its Spinnaker Fund, individuals in the midst of cancer treatments who need help paying their rent, utility bill or simply buying groceries.

“They just do all the little, tiny things that make someone’s life better,” Holmgren said.

The seeds of Sails Up 4 Cancer were planted in 2004, when Davis was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Shortly after, the Niantic resident began raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through its Leukemia Cup Regatta. Over four years, Davis raised more than $50,000 for the national organization, he said.

Then, in 2011, he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Davis said he was moved to “do more” to help those affected by cancer, and to put his efforts toward making a local impact.

Davis, who spent his career in construction management, said he has been fortunate through the years to be able to afford his medical treatment and to own his boat. Be he knows that’s not the reality for many who are diagnosed with cancer, particularly single heads of households.

“I can’t imagine what they go through,” he said.

Sails Up 4 Cancer has been the first to donate $5,000 to the Single Women’s Head of Household Cancer Assistance Fund through the L + M Cancer Center’s social services division.

For more information on Sails Up 4 Cancer, visit