Hot cars VRRM around and rally for Sun-Up

VERO BEACH — Every hot car in Vero appeared to be at the Second Annual Vero Road Rally Magnifique (VRRM) fundraiser to benefit the Sun-Up Center, providing programs, services and residential opportunities to individuals with special needs.  From the classic starburst blue 1957 T-Bird to a hot orange Lamborghini Gallardo, every car was buffed and polished and ready to ride. One snazzy car after another pulled into the Sun-Up Center, as Sonic car-hops in roller-skates whizzed around donating human fuel before participants took off.

Event chair Karl Steene gave drivers and navigators a few last minute tips about the rally, which he promised would be “fun, exciting, and a little confusing.”

Racing enthusiast Dr. Rob Callery helped design the route and couldn’t compete, so I was invited to join his wife Cathie as navigator in her Chevy Trail Blazer SS.  Unassuming on the outside, the SUV actually has a supercharged Corvette engine.

“Kids pull up next to me in their hot-shot cars thinking they’re alongside some old lady hauling around kids and groceries,” laughed Callery.  “But when the light turns, I take off and leave them in the dust.”

With a wave from VRRM flag-girl Dr. Susan Fries, cars took off in clockwise and counter-clockwise routes with checkpoints scattered throughout.  Directions were interspersed with questions about things observed and historical trivia, and took cars on a tour around western and northern Indian River County including, among other spots, the Blue Cypress Recreation Area on CR 512, Marsh Landing in Fellsmere, and a historic cemetery in Sebastian.

The final lap took us to the Sun Aviation Hangar for refreshments, a live auction and to learn who had earned bragging rights as VRRM Rally Champions.

John’s Island resident Orin Smith had loaned his exquisite collection of antique cars for display, including an rare Rolls Royce Station Wagon.

“It’s one of only four in the world,” said Sun-Up Executive Director Dennis Bartholomew.  “It’s an incredible collection.  I’ve been to shows all over the country, and it’s one of the nicest I’ve seen.”

He introduced me to James Broderick and his daughter Jessica, who joined as a Sun-Up client in January.

“She’s a happy camper there,” said Broderick.  “It’s a fantastic facility; a real jewel in the community.  The programs have helped her to socialize, garner self-esteem and deal with her disability in a nurturing environment.”

While the numbers were being tallied, Gary Hartley offered to take Sun-Up client Patricia Moody for a ride on his “Harley High-Rider,” a two-level dune buggy.

“We went a hundred miles an hour,” said Moody with a huge grin after the ride. “The breeze was blowing through my hair; I just loved it.”

Dennis Bartholomew spoke briefly to the crowd, telling of the many new programs at Sun-Up, which currently includes clients from newborn to 70 years-old.

“The newborn to 3-year-old program is the only one on the Treasure Coast,” said Bartholomew.  “It’s free of charge, and in four years, the program has touched the lives of 200 children.”

He also spoke of their programs for adults, which teach life skills to turn daily challenges into measurable success stories.

Some true racing legends were in attendance, including Honorary Rally Chair Brian Redman, and special guests Derek Bell and John O’Steen.  Redman and Bell regaled the crowd with entertaining tales from their legendary days as Le Mans and Grand Prix drivers.

After a live auction featuring jewelry and exotic trips, came the moment all were waiting for.

Driver David Stawara and navigator Stephanie Stawara, in the 2009 Lamborghini Gallardo, were awarded the First Place trophy.  They were driving the car for Anthony D’Elia, who competed in his Ferrari Scuderia.

Second Place went to the team of John and Debbie Huryn, driving a yellow1996 Porsche 993, and the Third Place trophy went to driver Randy Wytrval and navigator Mac McFayden, competing in a 1989 Mercedes Benz 300 CE. {igallery 369}

Related Articles

Comments are closed.