Show attractions abound in CHEER’s drive for new kitchen for Sussex seniors

GEORGETOWN – CHEER Inc.’s fundraising effort to feed the growing need for homebound meal delivery for seniors in Sussex County took the street in Georgetown Saturday.

There were also connections to the land Down Under, NASCAR and the sands of Daytona – and even an iconic Hollywood legend.

CHEER’s 9th Annual Car, Truck and Bike Show featured a huge turnout of show participants and spectators Saturday at CHEER’s Warren and Charles Allen Community Center on Sand Hill Road.

All proceeds, including those from a gourmet champagne brunch that featured prime rib and shrimp, support CHEER’s Cooking for Sussex Seniors capital campaign efforts to move from its current outdated, cramped kitchen facility in the Thurman Adams State Service Center to a new commercial kitchen at the community center site.

Longtime CHEER Nutrition Supervisor Florence Mason, who plans to retire Dec. 25 after CHEER’s traditional Christmas CHEER event, labeled Saturday’s event “a wonderful turnout.”

Walt Koopman, vice president of CHEER’s board of directors who again served as the show’s co-coordinator with Ms. Mason, agreed. “It’s one of our better ones,” he said. “We were worried about the weather.”

Sunshine reined and it didn’t rain on the festivities or the parade. Escorted by town of Georgetown police, about a dozen classic, vintage and muscle machines motored along Rt. 9 in an out-and-back parade that included a loop around The Circle.

Among the show’s younger spectators was five-year-old Gavin Praczko of Seaford.
“Gavin loves to see the cars,” said Vince Praczko, noting his son has 1,000 (model) cars. “This is the third time we’ve been coming to this show.”
On hand was Aamer Ghabra and his 2017 Holden Commodore SSV, a General Motors product manufactured down in Australia.

“I get a lot of, “So, what is this?’” said Mr. Ghabra. “It’s just a fun car – 415 horsepower. It was made in Australia. They only made 12,000 for the four years. When they made this, they knew they were going to shut down the factory over there. And they said, ‘We’re just going to make a fun car. We don’t care about gas mileage. We don’t care about any of that.”
Mr. Ghabra ordered his prize machine through I.G. Burton Milford.

“They didn’t have it there,” Mr. Ghabra added. “I had to ask them, ‘Can you find me one in this color with a sunroof?’ It’s Orange Blast Metallic. That’s what they call it here. But down in Australia, they call it ‘Light My Fire.’ I wish they kept that name for here.”
Part of the Historic Vintage Car Club of Delaware entourage was Lincoln resident Ray Ingersoll and his 1947 Ford Coupe, which took Best In Show last year at the CHEER event. Odds are the Ford Coupe he bought about three years ago once raced on Daytona’s sandy beaches in NASCAR early years.

“It was built for the beaches of Daytona. You can tell by the suspension. It’s got the truck transmission in it,” said Mr. Ingersoll, who left his three other vintage cars home – a 1931 Model A roadster, 1940 Pontiac and a 1941 Ford Business Coupe. “They’ve all taken trips. But I can only drive one car at a time, but I love them all.”

Garnering plenty of attention – but ineligible for trophies as CHEER personnel were excluded from judging done by professionals – was one of Mr. Koopman’s prize possessions. It’s his silver 1956 Porsche 550 Spider, which has a connection to Hollywood icon James Dean, who starred in such 1950s movie classics as Giant, East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause. According to Mr. Koopman, Ms. Dean ordered the Porsche prior to the actor’s tragic death in September 1955.

A 1923 Ford.

“The first title (holder) was James Dean,” said Mr. Koopman.
Another eye-opener was Rehoboth resident Scott Wallen’s 2017 Dodge Charter SRT Hellcat, which packs 707 horsepower and 650 foot-pounds of torque.

He bought it with 9,000 miles on it from an exotic car dealer in New York. “I’ve done a lot of research. I’ve had Chargers my whole life,” said Mr. Wallen. “Ever since I was in high school my first car was a Charger. I saw this ad in back Motor Trend magazine. I drove all way to New York to get it. This was my Christmas present to myself. It’s too fun not to drive. I take it to shows. But it really is a car that is built for the track, a racetrack. I’d kind of like to get it out and put it through its paces. Obviously, you can’t do that on public roads.”

Saturday marked Mr. Wallen’s first CHEER show. “This is actually my first year I was able to make the show. I was in the National Guard. I got out this year in March. So, this has always been a drill weekend. Every year I have tried to go, and it always has been on a drill weekend,” said Mr. Wallen, who applauded CHEER for its top-notch show. “It’s fantastic. The set-up is amazing. It’s a great crew. The way the parking lot is angled you can profile the cars. I love it. It is a great setup. There is plenty of room, so nobody is ‘dinging’ you.”

CHEER CEO Ken Bock, a classic car fan who owns a 1970 Mustang, offered sincere thanks to everyone who came out for the show.
“Your efforts coming out here today, participating and supporting this show, help generate much-needed funds to provide meals for senior citizens throughout all of Sussex County,” said Mr. Bock. “We’re trying to raise a total of $1.6 million to build a new kitchen right here behind this building that will be able to feed the seniors of Sussex County for the next 40 years.”

“I’m so pleased to be able to announce we are very, very far down the road on our way to achieving that goal of $1.6 million,” Mr. Bock said. “In fact, we have engineers and architects that are designing this kitchen right now. By this time next year, when you come back to the car show, there will be earth-moving going on and construction actually occurring right out behind this building — building this new kitchen that will have the ability to produce 2,600 meals a day to feed seniors throughout all of Sussex County. None of this would be possible without the support of so many, many people.”

Mr. Bock made special reference to State Sen. Brian Pettyjohn, who represents the Georgetown area and was instrumental in the last two state budgets in securing a total of $650,000 toward CHEER’s new kitchen project.

“CHEER and their programs are extremely important to the families here in Sussex County,” Sen. Pettyjohn said. “They do a tremendous job, and I am very proud to have been a continual supporter of them for a very long time and continue to support everything that they do.”
Georgetown Mayor Bill West, who delivered many, many meals as a volunteer in CHEER’s meals on wheels crusade, spoke of the value of the programs that go beyond just dropping off hot meals to homebound senior citizens.

“This is a great event to help the seniors that are homebound and by themselves. You’d be surprised to walk into some of these houses and talk with these people and be the only person they see within a 24-hour period for weeks out,” said Mayor West. “It’s something to see, and my ultimate goal was to put a smile on their face before a left. I’d helped them take out the trash, whatever they needed … just give them five minutes of your time to help these people. CHEER has been great.”

“My heart goes out to everyone here, the gearheads,” said Mr. Koopman. “I’ve been in and around CHEER for about 18 years. There’s a lot of good things happening…”

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