Kessler Alair Insurance Services has served the Inland Valley community for almost 100 years doing both business and service with its residents.

The ties that bind have held strong and continue to do so. Now as the Upland-based firm is celebrating its 90th anniversary, it again has stepped up to back a local nonprofit whose mission is to help individuals cope with life-altering injuries. Kessler Alair is partnering with the Be Perfect Foundation for its upcoming fifth annual fundraiser.

Saturday's gala will be conducted at the Hafif family estate in the foothills of La Verne. The theme is "These Boots Are Made for Walking" and it will include dinner, silent and live auctions and entertainment by The Silverados. Tickets are $125 per person. Information: before the fundraiser, company employees voluntarily have launched a Jar for Change campaign where clients are asked if they would like to make a small donation to the cause. Teams in the Upland and Rancho Cucamonga offices are involved. Kessler Alair also is joining with the Be Perfect Foundation to host an Oct. 19 bat-a-thon baseball event and picnic at Claremont High School.

For company owner Brad Kessler, helping out in the community is important, but working with the Be Perfect Foundation is personal.

"Be Perfect is near and dear to our hearts. Not only do I know the inspirational Hal Hargrave, founder of Be Perfect, but am deeply touched by the efforts of his foundation and the difference it makes in the lives of those affected by spinal cord injuries," Kessler said.

Hargrave Jr. was a standout baseball player at Claremont High School with dreams of pursuing the sport he loves at Cal State Long Beach until an automobile accident the summer after high school graduation left him paralyzed. But the young man, who now is a University of La Verne student, never let that stop him. He created the foundation and he and his family recently launched the Project Walk spinal cord recovery center located at The Claremont Club. Project Walk is an exercise-based program designed to help those with spinal cord injuries regain both strength and hope.

"My family has known the Kessler family for 12 to 15 years through youth sports and its activities throughout the community. Not only is Kessler Alair a great company, but the Kesslers are a great family. They invited me to an anniversary kickoff lunch last January where I spoke about the foundation. The company has very graciously accepted us and wants to help us try and help others," said Hargrave.

Vern Pittenger started what today has become Kessler Alair Insurance Services. He ran the business, established in 1923, basically from the back seat of his car. Pittenger later was joined by partner Gene Alair in 1950. In 1962, Bill Kessler started his own small insurance agency with the same vision that Pittenger and Alair had "" provide insurance services but always keeping in mind the importance of community. Kessler merged with the company in 1997 and that tradition has continued.

"Kessler Alair is one-of-a-kind in more ways than one. Not only is our sheer existence and longevity for nine decades monumental and practically unheard of in today's local business environment, but our underlying values of committed and friendly service are the bloodline of our agency, which have proven to be our reason for perpetual success," said Brad Kessler.

The family and the company have always been civic-minded, but teaming up with the Be Perfect Foundation is a way of expressing gratitude from both to the community, he said.

"Yes, we want to celebrate this company milestone, but we also want to focus on something more important than personal interests. It is our privilege to be involved with this wonderful organization," he said.

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