Cruisers for a cause: Car show shines for Charter School

The Marco Island Charter Middle School Car Show drew a lot of exhibitors and people who wanted to look and talk about cars.

Diane Fowler/Special to the Eagle

The Marco Island Charter Middle School Car Show drew a lot of exhibitors and people who wanted to look and talk about cars.

Beautiful cars on a sunny day brightened the Second Annual Marco Island Charter Middle School (MICMS) Car Show fundraiser.

Car owners from West Coast Muscle Car Club, Cool Cruisers of Southwest Florida, the Naples/Marco branch of the Antique Automobile Club of America and many individual car collectors, displayed their cars to help raise funds for the A-rated school.

Charter schools do not receive the same percentage of state funds that are given to other district schools. That’s one of the reasons that people involved with the school go the extra mile to bring in much-needed dollars, said, Mark Albanese, dean of discipline at MICMS.

“Our school goes out of its way to make sure no student is denied,” Albanese said. “The need for scholarships is growing.”

Many MICMS families are struggling with day-to-day expenses, just like other families around the district, dealing with foreclosures, and lost jobs.

“Car collecting takes lots of money,” he said. “Many people in our area are hurting, and the car owners still came out to support our school. I can’t tell you how much that means to me and our students.

“While we didn’t reach our goal for the show, I’m impressed with the support from the community, including the Baumler family, owners of the Island Café. They donated the food and cooked all day long.”

Albanese said one of the nicest moments of the day was when former MICMS student, Brad Buczko, exhibited his 1967 Ford fastback Mustang.

“Brad was so proud of all the work he put into his car,” Albanese said. “He shaved the door handles, modified his engine, and lowered the suspension. He has done all this, even though he is still a student at Lorenzo Walker Technical High School.”

Another proud car owner is West Coast Muscle Car Club member Norm Ardo, owner of a 1968 Oldsmobile 442 convertible. His car was one of the show winners, and Ardo was a door prize winner.

“I try to go to as many car shows as possible,” Ardo said. “We go to support various charities and it gives me a chance to talk with other car owners and get a look at their cars. Although my wife Fran goes to many shows with me, my son Frank is here with me today. It’s nice to have their support. We are currently working on a 1966 Chevelle convertible.”

Winners of the Best Original Car in Show, with a shiny red 1966 Mustang convertible, were Cool Cruisers members, Judd and Evelyn Thoman. The Thomans are winter residents of Naples who hail from Ohio.

“We love going to the shows. We show our Mustang here in Naples, and our 1960 Lincoln in Ohio,” Judd said. “We bought our cars new and we still have them.”

Although the car club members love getting together to talk shop, the underlying reason for their dedication to the clubs is helping kids.

Ron Maglothin, president of West Coast Muscle Car Club, encouraged several members of the club to attend the MICMS show.

“We try to get members to participate in every show,” he said. “Our non-profit club hosts its annual car show at Sugden Park on the second Saturday in March,” Maglothin said. “We didn’t have as many cars in the show as last year, but we still managed to make some money for the programs we support.

The club also supports the Liberty Youth Ranch and Lorenzo Walker.

Spectators were treated to some rather rare cars, including a 1923 Ford T-bucket, a Panther Roadster with three engines, an Auburn Boattail, and a completely customized 1937 Ford pick-up truck, which won Best in Show. A car that attracted lots of attention was a 2007 Ferrari, painted in a light-colored metal flake blue.

To help the school reach their goal for next year’s show, Albanese talked with the car club members.

“What’s great about the club members is that they gave us suggestions to improve the car show for next year,” Albanese said. “And they committed to coming back next year.”

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