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The Journal Gazette

  • Photos by Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Dominick McCann, left, and Tim McAbee look over McAbee's 2001 supercharged Corvette prior to judging at the Fort Wayne Corvette Club's car show Saturday at Byron Health Center.

  • Bill Barron kills some time by polishing his 2016 Dodge Charger during Saturday’s car show.

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Bill Barron polishes his 2016 Dodge Charger prior to judging at the Saturday afternoon Fort Wayne Corvette Club car show at the Byron Health Center.

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Bob Hunt keeps his 67 Shelby Cobra replica, which he built himself from the cast of the original vehicle in 2001, clean for the Saturday afternoon Fort Wayne Corvette Club car show at the Byron Health Center.

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette The Mercy Health Life Flight helicopter makes an appearence at the first annual Fort Wayne Corvette Club Car Show at Byron Health Center Saturday afternoon.

Sunday, July 01, 2018 1:00 am

Byron hosts car show to raise money for program

SHERRY SLATER | The Journal Gazette

Despite temperatures in the 90s and an excessive heat warning, 90 vehicles were on display Saturday morning at the Byron Health Center Car Show.

The show, hosted by Byron Health and the Fort Wayne Corvette Club, was scheduled to last from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. But participants started heading out shortly after noon because of the intense heat.

Rick Kummer stood proudly beside his 1979 Corvette, a vision in Colts blue.

The car, not Kummer.

The Fort Wayne resident replaced the original emissions control system, which never worked even when it was new, and installed a Chevrolet 383 Stroker hot rod engine.

“It's old school, but I can handle it because I'm old school,” said Kummer, who turns 66 on Wednesday.

Although some car collectors own several sports cars, this is his one and only.

“That's all my wife will let me own,” Kummer said. “This is the other woman.”

David Rose and Patty Sudds were among those who came to admire the cars.

“I've always dreamed of owning a Corvette, but I have a '63 Pontiac Catalina that I take to car shows,” Rose said.

The couple, who are dating, were admiring Joe and Cherie Berghoff's caution-sign yellow 2011 Grand Sport.

The Berghoffs, who have been married for 31 years, have been Corvette club members since 2012. This is their first and only Corvette. Joe calls it “my baby.”

Cherie insisted on the color, which they have duplicated with numerous after-market parts, including yellow custom stitching in the interior, yellow brake calipers that are visible inside the tires and yellow plastic covers over the engine and other assorted parts under the hood.

The couple also added chrome accessories and yellow LED lights under the car and inside the hood.

“I never knew there was so much you could get for them,” Cherie said.

“I don't drive it a lot,” Joe said. “Most of it is parades and car shows.” 

Kummer takes a different approach with his 'Vette.

“I love driving it,” he said. “It's got so many miles on it that it doesn't matter.”

John Drebenstedt, Byron Health's marketing and public relations manager, declared the first-time event a success. Corvette Club members had assured him that any time more than 50 cars participate in a first-time event, it's a triumph.

The car show included 27 club members' Corvettes and 63 assorted vehicles registered by non-members. After the judging, 10 were selected as winners and two were named grand champions.

Proceeds from the show will be donated to support Byron Health's equestrian therapy program. It was unclear Saturday what that total will be. The health center partners with Summit Equestrian Corner to allow selected patients to groom, train and ride a horse as part of their therapy.

Byron Health Center provides long-term health care to about 90 patients and provides assisted living to another 45. The facility specializes in treating patients with both medical and mental issues.

Among the diagnoses that might send someone to the health center include traumatic brain injury, dementia and mental illness.

Byron Health plans to move in spring 2020 to a new building at Beacon Street and Lake Avenue. The project – estimated at $30 million to $32 million – will receive $12.5 million in federal New Markets Tax Credits, city officials announced in May.

Parts of the center's current location at Lima and Carroll roads date back to the 1930s.

The local Corvette club has supported Byron Health with Halloween- and Easter-themed fundraisers the past five years. Drebenstedt expects the car show will also become an annual event.

Although some patients were allowed to admire the cars Saturday, staff was careful to limit their time in the heat and keep them hydrated, Drebenstedt said.

“It's a very delicate balance today,” he added.

sslater@jg.net