Hot-rodding for a cause
Oklahoma car shows support charity
Photo by iStock/leekris
Pinpointing the inventor of the first automobile has been the subject of debate since the 1800s and is definitely a matter of opinion. But historians can agree on one thing: By the end of the 19th century, car shows had become popular.
In 1898, the first automobile show took place at the Grand Palais in Paris, France, an event that remains popular 120 years later.
Americans began holding motor vehicle shows in 1900, when New York City hosted the first U.S. Automobile Show. Other large cities followed suit, with shows springing up in Detroit, Chicago, Boston, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Oklahoma City—where the 101st Oklahoma City Auto Show was held in March 2018.
What drives the popularity of car shows? The simple answer is automobiles and their owners dueling for bragging rights in a variety of classes. Car shows feature competition—which can lead to trophies and monetary rewards—and camaraderie.
In the 21st century, auto enthusiasts have discovered their shows can also be an outlet for charitable giving. The shows have become a way to generate funds for a variety of causes and entities—from supporting school programs and medical research, to providing civil services and reaching out to military veterans. Here is a sampling of car shows in Oklahoma that integrate charity into their events.
Funding Fire Departments
Volunteer fire departments are vital in rural Oklahoma, but virtually all the departments are self-sustaining. In 2002, members of the Central High department were looking for a fundraiser and they decided to give a car show a spin.
Sixteen years later, the show in the small Stephens County community is still spinning.
“People have really seemed to like the car show fundraiser. It’s come to be a big community event,” said CHVFD member David Hurlocker, who joins Fire Chief Dan Eberhart in coordinating the annual July event. “It’s a chance for people to come out and see our equipment, which is bought with the funds the show raises, and to get to know our firefighters and what they do.”
Hurlocker said there are typically 60 to 70 vehicles entered in the Central High car show, in a variety of classes.
Proceeds from the car show help the community, which is served by Cotton Electric Cooperative, in a variety of ways.
“Our training is not free and our equipment is not free,” Hurlocker said. “We have to keep up our training, which is always changing, and every year we spend $3,000 per firefighter on gear.
“Equipment is another big concern. This year, we bought a brush truck, which cost $47,000 just for the pickup truck part of it. The tires alone run $200 to $300.”
Noting the car show brings in about $10,000 each year, Hurlocker added, “We try our best to support the community, and the community has done a great job in supporting us.”
Searching for a Cure
Huntington’s Disease can be described as having ALS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease simultaneously. It’s a fatal genetic disorder that causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain.
Huntington’s is known as the “family disease,” because every child of a parent with HD has a 50/50 chance of carrying the gene.
There is no cure.
Five years ago, members of the Sweet Temptations Car Club in Lawton, Oklahoma, were looking for a cause to champion during their annual indoor car show at Great Plains Coliseum. After learning of Huntington’s deadly nature, club members created the Care2Cure Car Show.
“We’ve been together for eight years and we’ve always supported some type of charity, like the AMBUCS Trykes program,” said Ryan LaForrest, Sweet Temptations’ coordinator for Care2Cure. “After finding out more about the disease, we decided to join with a Huntington’s Disease Society of America affiliate in Lawton to host a benefit for the disease.”
Held in late September, Care2Cure draws dozens of car enthusiasts to compete in over 30 classes. There are numerous vendors and sponsors involved, along with a variety of drawings.
“We wanted to bring awareness about Huntington’s,” LaForrest said. “It helps us that the show is indoors, because people don’t have to stand out in the rain to see the cars and shop.
“We made over $10,000 last year, and this year I think we’ll hit our goal of $12,250.”
Phillip Kelly wears a lot of hats in Yale, Oklahoma, not the least of which are being city manager and chief of the city’s police department. And for the last eight years, Kelly has been the coordinator of the Sizzlin’ Summer Cruz’N Car Show.
The show features 23 classes of cars, bikes, trucks, tractors, off road, rave and kit cars. In addition to awards for competition in all classes, the show features live music, vendors and door prizes, with proceeds going to the Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 820.
“We have a lot of fun; although holding the show in the summer got to be too hot, so we moved it to October,” Kelly said. “In the past, we’ve used proceeds to benefit the American Cancer Society, the Wounded Warrior Project and breast cancer awareness.
“This year, we decided to give the proceeds to the Purple Heart chapter. Among the things they do is help veterans who have fallen on hard times. We became a Purple Heart City in September.”
Participants in the Route 66 Cruisers Car Show have a lovely drive to start the day, as they cruise from the NeMar Center to Claremore Lake for a cookout and some competition in September. The lake is beautiful, with plenty of shade trees, picnic tables and a playground. Plus, there’s live music.
Once at the lake, participants have a chance to receive one of the 50 plaques awarded in classes like Best Ford, GM, Mopar, Best Paint and Best of Show.
But there is more to the event, because for 14 years proceeds from the show have gone to charity. “This year, we wanted to help kids by giving a percentage of the funds to the Children of Akdar Shrine, along with some other local charities,” show organizer Terry Haddock said. “We usually make $12,000 to $15,000, and we don’t keep any of the money. It’s a great way to help others, especially area youth.”
So hop in your car, and enjoy a day of fun for a good cause.