By Darren Jacobs
It’s a given that the Dodge Viper is an obscenely powerful Snake. Less known is the fact that the Viper is also a chameleon. One day, it’s a dragster hurtling down the quarter-mile in a blur. The next, it’s a seductive cruiser, slowly gliding down the street, all the while drawing envious stares. But perhaps in its most vital role, the Viper is also a fund-raising powerhouse, helping to rain green on organizations that help those less fortunate. And in that guise the New England Viper Club of America has found the Viper to be a useful instrument.
The New England VCA has hosted the Northeast Exotic Car Show at the Budweiser plant in Merrimack, N.H., for five years running, raising thousands of dollars for the New England chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The show, headlined (of course) by the Dodge Viper, boasts a who’s who of exotic car nameplates, including BMW, Lamborghini and Ferrari, to name just a few. The New England VCA is the driving force behind the charity event, helping to fund the show, create event t-shirts and distribute trophies to car show winners. To date, the Club has helped raise $35,000 to grant wishes for seriously ill children.
“Every year we have sent a child to the destination of their dreams,” said New England VCA President Jerry Colpitts. “The kids have gone on trips to Walt Disney World, or similar fun places.”
The Northeast Exotic Car Show attracts about 200 cars a year. Businesses pay between $100-500 to sponsor the show, and Make-A-Wish mans a booth that generates nearly $1,000 in spur-of-the-moment donations on the show date. The New England VCA sells event t-shirts to raise money, and two Club members, Donna Mori and Maria Cote, bake cookies and cakes to sell. All funds are donated to Make-A-Wish.
“I get money handed to me by individuals at the show that want to give in the memory of someone,” said Colpitts. “They like the car show, appreciate what we do and want to help in any way they can.”
Past and present sponsors for the show include Meguiars, EXP4, NESN-TV, WBCN 104.1, Peter’s Nissan of Nashua, BMW/Lamborghini of Boston, Premier Car Club, Club Motorsports, Motorhead Extraordinaire, Yerardi Transportation, Wicked CAS and Synaptic 3.
The show has enjoyed a high of 45 Vipers that turned out to support the worthwhile cause. Regardless of the car count, dedicated New England VCA members back the show in large numbers each year.
“Our New England region is so strong,” said Colpitts. “They all pitch in, helping to park cars and doing other activities. The whole Club enjoys doing it. It’s a good feeling. It’s such a cool and great thing to do as a group. We are tight knit and we do a lot. We are wicked busy.”
Colpitts’ goal for 2010 is to better the $5,000 raised for Make-A-Wish at the 2009 event.
“I would love to do more,” said Colpitts. “It might be a challenge with the economy, but we’ll shoot for it. Make-A-Wish was part of the community when I got my first Viper and has helped people that I know, so it’s great to be able to give back to them. It brings a tear to my eye to be able to help these kids. Whatever we can do for these children is a great way to give back.”
Don’t bet against the New England VCA upping the charitable haul for Make-A-Wish next year—with the Viper on their side, they have a most powerful fund-raising tool, indeed!