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Mike Dyer is awarded the Fire Department Choice awarded by Matthew Yates (left) and Jace Alexander (right) at the show. Yates’ diagnosis prompted Wilkinson to join forces with the Southern Illinois Camaro Club to help bring the event to life. This year’s show raised a record $11,582, bringing more than $35,000 to the Muscular Dystrophy Association since 2013.
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Photo by David Colburn
A custom-built trophy, one of 12, awarded at the 2016 MDA Car and Bike Show at St. Louis Regional Airport on June 11. Neil Furlow created the trophy from used engine parts and Steve’s Auto Body in O’Fallon, Ill., painted it. Organizer Justin Wilkinson said he is grateful for the contribution and considers it a “one-of-a-kind award.”
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The show, seen here in an aerial photo, featured 175 cars and 20 motorcycles.
BETHALTO — For the fourth year in a row, Riverbend residents flexed their muscles (muscle cars, actually) to battle muscular dystrophy.
The Southern Illinois Camaro Club, in association with the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the Rosewood Heights Fire Department, this year was joined by the Bethalto Fire Department to host the fourth annual MDA Car and Bike Show at St. Louis Regional Airport on June 11.
The charity event works to raise money and awareness in researching muscular dystrophy and to showcase the “most top-quality cars around,” Rosewood Heights firefighter, Camaro club member and event supervisor Justin Wilkinson said.
The show finds its roots in early 2013, Camaro club President Matt Scobbie said.
“Justin came to our club and was interested in helping out the MDA on behalf of his family,” he said. “We’re proud to say that 100 percent of proceeds — outside of event costs — go to the MDA, and we’ve raised in excess of $35,000 so far.”
For Wilkinson, the cause is personal.
“My nephew, Matthew Yates, was diagnosed with MD, and that’s why this event is so important to me,” he said.
Yates and Jace Alexander — a Jerseyville boy also diagnosed with muscular dystrophy — play a pivotal role in the show by awarding the 12 trophies, custom-built from used engine parts by Neil Furlow and painted by Steve’s Auto Body in O’Fallon, Ill., to each contest winner.
“Each winner gets to see what the show means to the kids, and that really gives them a warm feeling in their hearts,” Wilkinson said.
“We were very fortunate to work with the Camaro club on the event,” MDA Event Coordinator Justine Bates said. “The show has worked out great for us. The MDA prides itself on operating a multi-disciplinary clinic with no co-pay, and the association will host an upcoming all-inclusive summer camp with a caretaker on site 24/7.”
The show features vehicles ranging from 1920s models to completely customized cars. This year’s show had 175 cars and 20 motorcycles, making it the biggest yet.
“One hundred forty-five of the cars were participants in the contest and 30 of the cars were on display,” Wilkinson said. “The St. Louis Regional Airport is a great venue. You can see the cars from (highways) 255 and 111, and that helped bring in a lot more foot traffic.”
Participants paid $10 to have their cars on display and $20 to compete and take home a T-shirt.
This year’s event generated $11,582 — a record that puts the charity’s overall donation sum near $40,000.
“We welcome SICC with open arms, and we were pleased to oblige their request,” St. Louis Regional Airport Manager Dave Miller said. “This is our first event with the Camaro club, though we’ve hosted quite a few other charity events over the years. This venue is ideal for its proximity to major highways, spaciousness and safety.
“We (also) had a lot of support in dealing with the heat, with instant response on standby for any emergency medical situation.”
Wilkinson said the club has played a crucial role in bringing the show to life.
“I can’t thank the Camaro club enough for its part in judging the event, promotion and setting up registration,” he said. “I also want to thank the Rosewood Heights and Bethalto fire departments for providing concessions and support.”
Wilkinson gave a special thanks to longstanding sponsors such as Apex Oil, Partners Insurance, Restoration House Body Shop, Steve Kainz and employees of Trickey’s Towing for cooking and helping with cleanup.
For Wilkinson, the show has revealed that the participants and audience really care.
“The 50/50 was over $600 this year, and the gentleman that won it donated every penny right back to the MDA,” he said.
Wilkinson said he is confident next year will be bigger and better.
“It will be our fifth anniversary, and we’ll have more attractions and make it into another big family event,” he said.
For information on the Southern Illinois Camaro Club and annual car and bike show, visit mdacarandbikeshow.com. To learn more about the Muscular Dystrophy Association, call the local office at (314) 962-0023 or visit mda.org.