By Konstantine Fekos
The PinkVette is rounding the final lap on its current effort to help area cancer patients, according to organizers of Saturday’s Cruisin for a Cure Charity Auction — an upcoming benefit for the Yolanda G. Barco Oncology Institute.
The year-and-a-half “Cruise for a Cure” campaign is expected to culminate in the bright pink 1984 Chevrolet Corvette’s sale to the highest bidder this weekend. The money from the sale of the car and the event will fund a transportation service for patients being treated at the Institute. A vehicle and a fund to help run and maintain it are the goals.
“I’m grinning like heck right now,” Brian Bair, of Bair’s Corvettes in Linesville, told the Tribune in anticipation of the charity auction. “The goal is just to have a great day to cap off this great, successful campaign.”
David Gray of Smith-Gray Buick GMC, Meadville, and Bair had their expectations shattered when the PinkVette garnered more than twice as much donation money as they originally anticipated — and in less time.
“We’re pushing close to $86,000,” Bair said. “The original goal was $30,000. It ended up being a nice community effort on the whole project.”
In addition to the positive community response and sizable donations received, volunteers for the PinkVette project, from the car’s reconditioning to its eventual sale, will have put in more than 3,800 hours of work and service, Bair added.
“We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from our community to sponsor the PinkVette,” said Valerie Waid, oncology institute director. “Our heartfelt appreciation goes to David Gray, Brian Bair and all of the volunteers who have made our program such an outstanding success.”
As far as signatures go, more than 5,200 names already fill quite a bit of space on the PinkVette’s classy chassis, according to Bair.
“It’s been from Erie to Pittsburgh, all around Pennsylvania and Ohio,” he said. “It’s been to the Crawford County Fair, car shows, horse shows, cruise-ins, the Pumpkin Fest, a lot of different events.”
Throughout its many travels, the PinkVette has made an emotional impact as much as a financial impact on local lives touched by cancer.
Support group members, caretakers, cancer survivors and others have shared smiles and shed tears over the past year, taking in the broader significance of what the PinkVette means to the community.
“I got more of a feel for how cancer affects families, relatives and friends,” Bair said. “There are a lot of sad stories and nice, happy memories with that car.”
September’s auction event will further support the PinkVette Fund, which paid for an all-terrain vehicle for the oncology institute last fall, by providing gas and maintenance funding for the transportation of needy patients to and from treatments, ideally for the next several years.
“To date (since November 2013), we have been able to provide 404 trips to 40 patients for a total of 15,900 miles,” Waid said. “On behalf of our patients and staff members of YGBOI, please accept our deepest gratitude of your generosity.”
The charity event is expected to include a car cruise and more than 100 gift baskets and other items for a pick-a-prize auction and a live auction.
In conjunction with the event, a spaghetti dinner will be held at the Lakeland-Valley Regional Senior Community Center.
A 1992 Ford Mustang Convertible, donated for the event, will also be auctioned off to the highest bidder.
“It all goes to the transportation fund; 100 percent of the money stays right there,” Bair said.
And an extra bonus to whoever drives off into the sunset with the PinkVette — the air cleaner cover with Jay Leno and Arnold Palmer’s signatures will go with the car.
“One lady described it as a get well card on wheels,” Bair said. “That fits the bill perfectly.”
Konstantine Fekos can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.
You can go
The Cruisin for a Cure Charity Auction is Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. at Bair’s Corvettes, 316 Franklin St., Linesville. The event will include a car cruise-in, live auction, pick-a-prize auction and 50/50 raffle. The spaghetti dinner is at Lakeland-Valley Regional Senior Community Center, 209 S. Pymatuning St., Linesville. The dinner is $6 per person and will run from noon until dinners are sold out. For more information or to donate items for the auction, call Bair’s Corvettes at (814) 683-4223 or visit pinkvette.net.