MAHONING VALLEY Getting fathers hooked on 'vettes

Entry fees are going to local charities and scholarships.
BOARDMAN -- It's easy to get hooked.
Bill Pearce of Canfield was 10 years old. The ride in a 1967 "big block" was almost intoxicating, he said, recalling the sheen of the curvy body and rev of the engine inside.
That day, Pearce said, another Corvette junkie was born.
Almost 250 enthusiasts are expected June 17 in the Southern Park Mall parking lot near Chili's restaurant for the Seventh Annual Mahoning Valley Corvette Club Father's Day Car Show.
Raising money: Pearce and the 72 other club members are earmarking the regional competition's $5 entry fees for local organizations.
Last year's rain-drenched event raised $2,000 each for the Make-A-Wish and Eastern Regional Kidney foundations, and $1,000 for two scholarships the club awards.
"It's just a drop in the bucket," said Elaine Pearce, Bill Pearce's wife and the kidney foundation's president. With kidney dialysis treatments costing up to $4,000 a month, it sure helps, she said.
Elaine Pearce estimated the foundation helped about 200 kidney patients from Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties last year.
During the same period, Make-A-Wish fulfilled the hopes of 12 local children with life-threatening illnesses, according to the foundation's Cleveland-based Northeast Ohio branch. One met NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon; another got a Nintendo 64.
"The whole area has just gone gangbusters on us," said Sara Koons, the branch's events manager.
Events that raise money locally are vital, she said, since the average wish costs about $5,000 to grant.
The money's easy to raise, given the volume of competitors flocking to Boardman, Bill Pearce said.
The cars, some restored in New York and eastern Pennsylvania, are being judged for best of show, outside appearance, or overall restoration and cleanliness.
Neatnicks: The entries in the third category will be meticulously cleaned; their owners are "a little nuts," said Pearce, the club's newsletter editor and former president.
"If you have one piece of lint on your seat, you get points taken off," he said, laughing.
"Last time I did it, they found dirt on my valve covers, and that was enough. I was running the show; I don't have time to clean my car."
Still, Pearce plans to bring his 1984 customized white Corvette; his 1975 cranberry Stingray Coupe will sit at home. He's hoping for a large, attentive audience. Deciding to hold the show on Father's Day was no accident.
"This is probably chauvinistic, but guys like 'vettes," he said.
The more guys that get hooked, he reasoned, the bigger the checks the club writes in the end.

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