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Elm Grove car show to benefit wheelchair youth athletes

July 29, 2014

Those looking to show off their wheels will soon be helping disabled children to have fun in theirs.

Last year, the first edition of the Cruisin' the Grove classic car and motorcycle show raised $5,000 for the Milwaukee Heat Youth Wheelchair Basketball program. Heat coach Bob Anger is hoping that even more can be done for the 26 disabled children on the program's developmental and varsity teams at this year's event on Aug. 3.

"We're hoping that we can step up donations from the general public this year. Last year, most of the donations came from the car and motorcycle registrations," Anger said. "This year, our sponsorships are up quite a bit from last year and we hope we can help the general public know they can make donations."

The Milwaukee Heat is partnering with IndependenceFirst to host the event.

Anger noted that while the event's sponsorships may be up this year, so too are its costs. The coach, who doubles as a principal at Woller-Anger & Company LLC, noted that every dollar helps.

High costs

"It's huge. Programs like wheelchair basketball are very expensive. The average wheelchair for sports is about $2,500," Anger said. "Sports wheelchairs are not covered by insurance, so the families, for the most part, are not in a position to be able to afford one."

In addition to the cost of equipment, travel costs are also an issue for the Heat that Cruisin' The Grove will help address.

"We're the only team in Wisconsin, so the only way we can participate is to travel pretty far," Anger said. "Our conference is Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan."

Anger likened the travel schedule to being on a select soccer team; however, he noted a vital difference between the two.

"There's so many options for an able-bodied child. It's a huge commitment for a family to have a child on a select team," Anger said. "We're the only wheelchair basketball team in the state. There's no choice."

Kis from all over

Travel expenses can amount to an even greater sum for children from outside of southeastern Wisconsin, as the Heat still represent their closest option.

"We have a group of really dedicated kids. One comes from Cuba City, over by Platteville. Another comes from up around Appleton," Anger said. "The one from Cuba City missed two practices last year."

The Cruisin' event itself will last from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will see classic cars join motorcycles to decorate the street. Families can find plenty of local businesses offering food and beverages. Captain Bob and Arlo, hosts of the Wisconsin Hotrod Radio Show, will act as emcees for the event; and Build MOTO will show off some of its talented members' work.

Build MOTO, a non-profit organization started by the Iron Horse Hotel due to industrial arts programs being reduced in schools, brings youth together with mentors to build or rebuild classic motorcycles.

"It's a great group that gives these kids a fun project to do," Anger said. "They'll be on site and they'll be showing those bikes off on display."

Other highlights will include an appearance by Stan Johnson's Silver Bullet. The well known drag race car from the mid-1960s was originally designed and constructed in Brookfield. The car was sold to a new owner from Canada and parts of it were lost, dismantled, and found years later. After a lot of research and effort, Johnson reunited with his Silver bullet in fall of 2012 and has been restoring the car ever since.

Village endorsement

The car show itself will give out nine participant awards with 1st through 3rd place awards in separate car and motorcycle categories and then 4th through 6th place awards in a combined field. Two Committee Choice awards, one Young Gun award, and one Youth Judge award are also planned.

Elm Grove Village Manager Dave DeAngelis took time at Monday's board of trustees meeting to recommend attendance of Cruisin' the Grove.

"It was a great event last year and it looks like they've expanded it a little bit," DeAngelis said. "Please make an effort."

DeAngelis also noted that because of the event, Watertown Plank Road will be closed from Juneau Road to Legion Drive throughout much of Sunday.

While Anger is hopeful that Cruisin' the Grove can improve on its $5,000 total last year, he is avoiding setting a specific goal.

"We would certainly like to exceed last year's contribution, but we don't have a fixed dollar goal," Anger said.

Members of the Milwaukee Heat include children with disabilities ranging from cerebral palsies, amputations, cancer, spinal injuries, and more.

"It's amazing because the kids always exceed my expectations. It's my seventh year being involved in this and the kids continue to amaze me," Anger said. "I hope that everyone comes out (Sunday). It's just a fun, family-friendly party for a great cause."

Citizens wanting to donate to the cause but unable to attend the event can still contribute at http://www.independencefirst.org/home. For more information, call 414-291-7520.

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