OLEAN — Street Classics Car Club members presented a large $5,000 check to JDRF Tuesday at a club meeting at the Olean Center Mall.
Formally known as Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, JDRF of Western New York seeks a cure for Type 1 diabetes in both children and adults.
“This year we’re giving $5,000,” said John Ricci, treasurer of Street Classics. Ricci explained that much of the club’s fundraising goes toward JDRF, noting that some founding club members live with type 1 diabetes.
Formed 28 years ago as a volunteer organization to raise funds for JDRF and other local charities, Street Classics has donated at least $77,800 of its $113,000 funds to the cause, or roughly 70%.
In addition to JDRF, Street Classics has donated thousands of dollars to numerous local charities including the Olean Food Pantry, Friends of Cattaraugus County Nursing Home, veterans and veterans in need, the Cattaraugus County SPCA and the Salvation Army Christmas toy program among many others.
“And this year, for the first time, we’re giving a $500 scholarship to BOCES for an auto technology graduate,” Ricci added.
Funds are raised every year at Street Classics activities including ranging from their weekly Thursday cruise nights to their annual car and motorcycle show.
“We have our big car show, we go around with our big ad book and we get sponsors for the trophies,” said Ricci, explaining some of the club’s fundraising efforts.
Street Classics Car Club president James McKelvey said the club has 25 regular members, but anyone is welcome to attend cruise night every Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. May through September at the Olean Center Mall parking lot. There is no admission charge.
“The best we’ve done is about 43 cars,” said McKelevy.
Additionally, the 28th annual Street Classics car and motorcycle show is set for Aug. 4 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Allegany Fireman’s Park in Allegany.
“We have music playing and use our own sound system, we do chinese actions and we have door prizes,” said McKelevy.
Accepting this year’s donation was JDRF executive director Karen Swierski, who has worked with Street Classics and other type 1 diabetes fundraisers in Western New York since she began her career with the foundation 18 years ago.
“Organizations such as the car club have really done so much, not only to raise money but to raise awareness,” said Swierski.
Type 1 diabetes, which has no known cure, is actively researched by the organization, which, according to Swierski, raises about $1.5 million a year due in large part to the efforts of groups like Street Classics.
“We’ve done amazing things with the money,” she said. “In the last five or six years, the work that we’ve been doing has just exploded. We have about 500 people in Western New York on an artificial pancreas now, which JDRF spearheaded.”
The artificial pancreas is one of many type 1 diabetes management devices intended to help individuals better manage with the disease until a cure is found. Another innovation Swierski described is a continuous glucose monitor, which can be worn for up to ten days and avoids finger pricks.
“Our goal is a cure, but we realize there are a lot of people living with type 1 and we want them to better manage their disease so when the cure comes they are still healthy enough to take advantage of that,” she said.
Swierski thanked Street Classics for their contribution, telling members that two local teens, Emily Dickey, 16, from Lancaster, and Ben Cornell, 14, from Bemus Point, who were presently joining a delegation of 160 children and celebrity advocates in Washington, D.C. at the JDRF 2019 Children’s Congress, which ran from July 8 to 10.
“Just to be able to come and see all the signage and having everyone come to talk about Type 1 diabetes and what it is and what John and Jim have done with the club all these years is just remarkable,” Swierski said, giving final thanks to the club for their efforts over the years.