By Konstantine Fekos
Crowds bursting out of Bair’s Corvettes broke into applause once the final word rang out — “sold.”
Supporters and benefactors of the PinkVette got a bit of a surprise in Linesville on Saturday when the car made its final contribution to the Yolanda G. Barco Oncology Institute of Vernon Township. It was sold for $20,000.
“A group of us wanted to buy the car at keep it at (the institute),” said Don Rhoten, president of the Meadville Medical Center Foundation, whose group made the successful top bid for the institute. “It’s truly where it belongs.”
Rhoten climbed into the PinkVette alongside Valerie Waid, oncology institute director, who believes the car will best serve its purpose nearest the patients supported by “Cruise for a Cure.”
“It’s more than just a car,” she smiled. “It offers hope for our patients.”
With more than 5,600 signatures and $100,000 raised within the past year and a half, auction organizers are confident the PinkVette Fund will adequately support the institute’s patient transportation program for years to come.
The fund was organized to pay for a transport vehicle as well as its future maintenance and fuel, according to Brian Bair of Bair’s Corvettes.
“I’m just overwhelmed,” he said, emphasizing the bittersweet feeling of seeing such a major endeavor come to an end. “It’s been a long, exhausting but satisfying trail.”
Bair and David Gray of Smith-Gray Buick GMC, Meadville, were both impressed by the day’s attendance and the communty support throughout the campaign.
“It far exceeded our expectations from the get-go,” Gray said. “Everybody seems to know about the PinkVette. People driving down the road honk because they recognize it.”
Bair estimated at least 800 people turned out for the Saturday’s live auction as well as numerous smaller auctions throughout the day.
“I’d like to thank everyone who went down the road with the PinkVette,” he said. “The people who were here cared about the campaign. The community outreach was just mind-boggling.”
Organizers of the charity auction agreed the PinkVette’s legacy made a difference in the end.
“People who’ve signed the car some back and look around for their signatures,” Gray said. “It’s touched a lot of lives.”
As a result, officials from the medical center and the institute hope to stay as true as possible to what the PinkVette means to local patients and all those whose lives have been touched by cancer.
“We hope we’ll be able to showcase it,” Rhoten said. “We’re figuring out the best way to donate it back to the patients. I couldn’t imagine seeing it any other way or anywhere else.”
Konstantine Fekos can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.