Sunday, May 26, 2024

Local car club donates $10k to vet memorial

Silver Dollar Classics Car Club presents check to Tarrant County Vietnam Memorial Foundation

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AZLE — A local car show had a follow-up to remember after club members donated $10,000 to the building of a Vietnam veterans memorial.

A general meeting and check presentation were held April 30 at CJ’s Café in Azle by the Silver Dollar Classics Car Club. Chuck “Cuda” Matthews, former club president, thanked members and told the story of Albrecht Dürer, creator of the famous painting “Praying Hands.” According to Matthews’ story, Dürer was given a chance to attend an art institute when his brother went to work in the coal mines to support his family. After great success, Dürer wanted to give his brother the chance to learn art at the institute, but by then his hands had been too damaged to paint fine details with a brush. Dürer would go on to paint his brother’s hands as a tribute to his sacrifice.

“I tell you this historical story because of the sacrifice that all of you in this room made for this foundation and I just wanted to say thank you,” Matthews said.

Current President Gary Cochran spoke and likewise thanked the volunteers for making everything possible.

“Seeing the veterans that were coming in and out of the show and to have them come by and say ‘this is one of the coolest car shows I’ve ever been to’ Cochran said. “Everybody that was walking out was like ‘man, this was just awesome.’ We’re a family and we’re ambassadors to car shows. It doesn’t matter the car you drive, the motorcycle you ride or anything because we’re a huge family and what we do is take care of our community.”

After he spoke, club members presented Cochran with a challenge coin. Board members were also thanked with unique custom-made challenge coins.

With 50 to 60 members per meeting and 120 members total, members and leadership are amazed with the club’s growth in only its second year. Earlier in March, the club hosted its second annual car show benefiting the Tarrant County Vietnam Memorial Foundation. The show hosted around 180 cars, a live Creedence Clearwater Revival tribute band, food and craft vendors and two Vietnam-era helicopters borrowed from the Fort Worth Aviation Museum. Representatives from the museum and memorial foundation were present to speak and accept a donation from funds raised during the event. There were more than 1,000 spectators according to Cochran’s estimates. The number of attendees was particularly impressive, he said, because they were competing with four other local car shows, some with as many as 500 cars.

“We enjoyed being a part of your car show. From the museum, we enjoyed bringing out the helicopters,” Jim Hodgson, a representative from the museum and foundation said. “You’re the only group that we allow to take the helicopters without us. It’s a big point of trust for us. We know they’re going to get there and get back. From the museum standpoint we’re glad to support it. From the foundation standpoint, you’re doing work for us on behalf of the 225 families and the gentlemen who served and on behalf of those families, thank you because those gentlemen’s names are going to be perpetually there so that they and their families are going to be remembered for the sacrifices they all made and continue to make because of the people who are afflicted with Agent Orange.”

Last year, the club raised $7,500 for the building of a future Vietnam veterans memorial. The memorial, which is planned to be built at Veteran's Memorial Park in Fort Worth, is still in the fundraising phase of its building but is projected to be completed in November 2026. The memorial plans were conceived by Brewer High School student, Ryan Scieneaux, in a winning 2020 submission. Fort Worth-based artist and sculptor, Michael Pavlovsky, and Nick Nelson of Pacheco Koch are working with the Fort Worth Parks Department and Fort Worth Art Commission to make this concept into a reality.

“It’s overwhelming the amount of support they’ve shown us last year and this year,” Tarrant County Vietnam Memorial Foundation Treasurer Damon Harvey said. “It’s been a continued partnership that we didn’t really anticipate. There’s no way we could really show our true gratitude because the memorial cannot be done without people really opening their hearts to be able to do things like this for our organization. It’s going to be unlike any memorial you’ve ever seen based on the fact that it was a high school student that designed it. It’s not the canon, it’s not the spire, it’s not people walking, it’s a completely unique design.”

At the end of the meeting, the club presented this year’s check and raffled off prizes to club members. The club first began holding shows to benefit the TCVMF by recommendation of club member Leah Owens after she was inspired by the service of her husband and fellow club member Roger Owens. Owens served in the Army, 25th Infantry, in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968. More information about the foundation can be found on its website tcvm.us and on its Facebook page. The Silver Dollar Classics Car Club, which is hosted by Silver Dollar Customs, can be found on Silver Dollar Classics Car Club Shows on Facebook or through its private Facebook group.