Meadville Tribune

Local News

March 15, 2012

Pink Corvette rebuild aimed at raising breast cancer awareness

MEADVILLE — It’s easy to recognize that pinker-than shade of pink that’s become a chosen color for breast cancer awareness worldwide: It’s on ribbons, T-shirts, bumper stickers — on everything, on purpose.

So Brian Bair of Bair’s Corvettes in Linesville; Dave Gray, owner of Smith Gray Buick GMC in Vernon Township; and some of their friends are guessing it’s going to be pretty hard to miss the ’84 Chevrolet Corvette they’ve been busy souping up (completely restoring, inside-and-out) in recent months. And they’re guessing it’s going to get more attention after it starts getting some signatures — thousands of signatures — all over it.

There’s already one on it: “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno, a well-known classic car buff, recently gave the ’Vette his John Hancock, signing an air cleaner cover that project leaders sent from Bair’s Linesville shop to Leno’s Los Angeles studio.

Big name, bright color, bold car: That’s how Bair and Gray are rolling out PinkVette, the sportscar that’s been restored (and painted really, really pink) to raise funds for Meadville Medical Center’s Yolanda G. Barco Oncology Institute and to raise awareness of cancer in general.

Starting with its public debut at the institute on May 4, PinkVette will be “Cruisin’ for the Cure,” making stops at events around the region through next year and inviting everyone to sign their own name on the car for a donation.

The overall initial goal, Bair and Gray said, is to raise at least $20,000 through the “Crusin’” events and continuing community fundraising efforts. Plans are also in the works to publicly auction PinkVette to raise even more funds, sometime late next year following its run through the region, they said.

All money raised by the PinkVette’s efforts will be donated to the Institute to purchase and maintain a special vehicle to transport Institute patients (and their family members) from around the region who aren’t able to make it to the center for their appointments, they said.

Those patients come “not just from Crawford County, but from Erie, Venango, Mercer and Ashtabula counties” as well, said institute Director Valerie B. Waid. “And as state budgets continue to tighten, extra funds for transportation programs are dwindling.

As it stands, “the American Cancer Society does a great job of helping with pre-arranged rides. Unfortunately, we often see last-minute ride requests,” she added, along with patients who, for one reason or another, may drive themselves to treatment but not be able to drive themselves home safely.

For those reasons, “to have our own vehicle parked here at our center will be a wonderful asset to our program,” Waid said.

Being car guys, Bair and Gray thought so too.

“We just started coming up with ideas,” Bair said recently, and the PinkVette “came into our heads.

“It’s an off-the-wall project,” he added with a smile, but with the help of 100-plus local sponsors and volunteers, “it’s all coming together.”

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