Car show to give HU’s Mertz Center second shot to raise funds

Joe Bellinger (right), of Waterloo, talks about his vintage car with Sandy Smith (left) and Jim Starbuck during the Flashback to the ‘60s car show at Huntington University last year.
Joe Bellinger (right), of Waterloo, talks about his vintage car with Sandy Smith (left) and Jim Starbuck during the Flashback to the ‘60s car show at Huntington University last year. TAB file photo.

After a discouraging rain-out of its own earlier car show planned in April, Huntington University's Joe Mertz Center for Volunteer Service has another shot at raising money for a new van, thanks to a generous offer by a Huntington couple and their car club.

The Country Cruisers, which consist of Dave and Paula Funk, of Huntington, and several other local couples, will donate proceeds from their 15th annual "Flash Back to the '60s" car show on Friday, July 16, to the JMC.

"It's a huge blessing," says Grace McBrayer, director of first-year students and volunteer services at HU. "At the beginning of the summer, we didn't have much of a plan to pull (the car show) off again, but then I got a call from David Funk, and he said he would allow us to do a fundraiser during their car show."

The "Flash Back to the '60s" car show has traditionally seen between 250 and 300 cars, and has also previously been held on the HU campus.

Dave Funk says he wants to give back to the university for allowing the group to host the car show on campus free of charge in the past, and had noticed the JMC car show in April and its wet fate.

The university has "been so gracious to let us use the facility and not charge us a nickel," Funk says.

Each year, the Country Cruisers select a charity to receive the proceeds from the show, and in recognition of HU's support as well as the work of the JMC, the car club picked the JMC as its designated charity.

"Every year, we've given $20,000 to $30,000 back to the community," Funk says, citing the PAL, Humane Shelter and Helping Paws as past recipients.

The show has several sponsors, including Bippus State Bank, by far the largest financial supporter. Funk said registrations have come in from as far away as Minnesota, Cincinnati, and Windsor, Ontario.

Interestingly enough, Funk and McBrayer have never met in person.

"I've never met him, but he's incredibly generous," McBrayer says of Funk. "And regardless of how much is raised, we can raise more than we could without their help."

McBrayer hopes to use the car show as an opportunity to educate the Huntington community about the services the JMC can provide, and to connect with local residents.

"Last year, we recorded over 11,000 hours of volunteer service, and that's just what was turned in," McBrayer says.

The JMC will have a booth set up at the car show, and at least five HU students will be on hand to answer questions and talk to show attendees.

The need for a new van is becoming greater and greater as time progresses. The JMC's current van, a 1992 Ford Aerostar, is slowly becoming more problem-ridden, and although the van is not yet out of commission, McBrayer points out that many services that the JMC provides are dependant on the van and it is important to find a suitable replacement before those services are interrupted.

"It is unacceptable to not be able to provide those services," McBrayer says.

The car show will happen in the parking lot in front of the Merillat Centre for the Arts at HU on Friday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Complete caption: Joe Bellinger (right), of Waterloo, talks about his vintage car with Sandy Smith (left) and Jim Starbuck during the Flashback to the ‘60s car show at Huntington University last year. This year’s show is set for Friday, July 16, and proceeds will go to the HU Joe Mertz Center for Volunteerism.