By Konstantine Fekos
The Meadville Tribune
In less than two years, the PinkVette raised thousands of dollars, logged hundreds of miles and touched countless lives — feats that left a lasting legacy of hope, according to volunteers who supported the project from the beginning to its recent end.
Brian Bair, of Bair’s Corvettes, Linesville, and David Gray, of Smith-Gray Buick GMC, Meadville, initially put their heads together last spring to raise money for the Yolanda G. Barco Oncology Institute transportation program. The program provides rides to patients who would otherwise struggle to make it to treatments and appointments.
The two car buffs decided to restore a 1984 Chevrolet Corvette, paint it pink with breast cancer awareness in mind, and auction it off after touring it around and accepting donations from those who wanted to sign it.
They figured a bright pink sportscar would garner some attention. But even as the fundraising campaign — dubbed Crusin’ for a Cure — neared its conclusion, they couldn’t believe the overwhelming response of support from the community.
PinkVette quadrupled its original $20,000 goal in the project’s first year and crossed the finish line last month having raised $129,000 with about 5,626 signatures, according to Bair and Gray.
“The car ended up being more than just a fundraiser,” Bair said. “It’s the hope of surviving the battle. It shows how much people care about each and every person out there.”
PinkVette “became a landmark,” Bair said. “Go on up and touch it, feel it. There’s 5,600 people (who signed the car) that cared about you.”
The car made its public debut in May 2012 when it began making stops where the public was invited the public to sign the car for a donation.
Proceeds from the PinkVette’s tour purchased a sport utility vehicle and established a fund to maintain the vehicle. Since the SUV was purchased last fall, it has provided more than 400 trips to about 40 patients, according to Valerie Waid, the Barco Oncology Institute’s director.
Dan Rhoten, president of the Meadville Medical Center Foundation, purchased the PinkVette on behalf of the Foundation to give the sportscar what the Foundation felt was an appropriate home — the Barco Oncology Institute.
The PinkVette sold for $20,000, and all of it went to the transportation program.
While the Foundation is still ironing out details concerning the car’s future mission, Rhoten stated at the auction he hopes to keep the PinkVette on track serving cancer patients.
Whatever purpose the car will serve, “it’s going to be talked about for a long time,” Bair said.
After the PinkVette’s auction, Bair and Gray posted a letter of gratitude on the car’s website, pinkvette.net, to express their appreciation to the community at large.
“(Bair, Gray) and the entire PinkVette project would especially like to thank all of the individuals, corporations and organizations who donated sponsorships, memorials/honors, goods and much more,” it read. “Thanks to you and all those involved, we will remember the PinkVette and its amazing journey for years to come.”
Konstantine Fekos can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.