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Cruisin’ Photos
Charlie goes to the Hot Rod Show

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Ron, Craig, Alan and Annette with Charlie in front (of course)
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Charlie ready for the ride of his life in Craig's Roadster

On Saturday January 21st, Let's Go Cruisin' with the great support of the VHRA, promoters of the annual Victorian State Hot Rod Show at Melbourne's Exhibition Building, gave Charlie, a long term sufferer of Motor Neurones disease, a day out he'll long remember.

This all started when Charlie's carer, Annette, wrote to Larry O'Toole, publisher of Australian Street Rodding magazine looking for help in fulfilling a wish Charlie had to " go for a ride in hot rod". Before he contracted his disease some 15 years ago, he was a keen follower of hot rodding and drag racing. Annette wrote, " there is no make a wish foundation for people of his age and it has been a real ordeal to find sponsorship or volunteers to allow people of his age and condition to participate in such events and make their dreams a reality".

Larry passed Annette's letter on to us at Let's Go Cruisin' and we started planning a day out for Charlie. Working with Annette, we concluded that a day at the Hot Rod Show would immerse Charlie into the Hot Rod scene. We contacted the promoter of the Vic State Hot Rod Show, Peter Unsworth, and from then on, Charlie's day out was all go.

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All hands helping to load Charlie's scooter into Ron's F100
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Peter (right) from the VHRA greeting Charlie outside the entrance to the show

We picked up Charlie, his carer Annette and grandson Dylan, at his house, got him settled into Craig Warrens '32 Ford Roadster, loaded his electric scooter into the back of Ron and Cheryl Mill's '56 Ford Effie, and with Annette and Dylan riding in Alan Newton's '31 Ford A400, it was a-cruisin' we'd go to the hot rod show. Picture this, it was hot, dam hot and we're cruisin' top down in 40 degree heat. Does Charlie care? He's grinning from ear to ear! After a half hour cruising we arrive at the show. We are directed to the front of the building where we're met by the Peter Unsworth and Ron Smith from the VHRA. They welcome Charlie and give him and his small support team a warm [ and it's still hot to boot ] welcome. The cameras come out, because Charlie's wish to ride in a hot rod is now a well circulated request courtesy of Annette's letter. So after photos are taken, Peter and Ron usher us all in to the show as their VIP guests for the day. Judging by the look of bewilderment on Charlies face, it's been a while since he's been treated as a VIP! We're no sooner inside than Larry O'Toole wants a photo, so it's off for another photo shoot. Then it's Peter Carpenter's from Oz E Rodders, turn for some more photos. Charlie is particularly proud of the Oz E Rodders shirt given to him by Carps' at a BBQ they gave Charlie just before Christmas. Then Mick Dascoli from the TV show, Rodders Life wants to interview Charlie. So now he's going to be on TV. Charlie seems to be coping with his new celebrity status like an old pro! Then it was time to check out the great rides on show at the Hot Rod Show. After cruisin' around on his scooter, I asked Charlie which car did he like? His answer, a one word "everything".

Charlie's day continued on checking out the cars, the trade stalls, and being greeted by lot's of people in street rodding he's now met.
All good things do come to an end, as it was very hot, it was time for Charlie to head for home, but not before the folks at the VHRA presented him with some goodies as a memento of his visit. So Charlie left the building, with a show T shirt, hat, a grand son now dressed in hot rod show merchandise, a carer, rightly rewarded for her efforts to have made something happen, and I think a fair number of memories that should last him until his next day out with the street rod community.

We'd like to thank a few people for making Charlie's wish come true:

  • Annette, his personal care attendant for the initiative and energy to make this day out happen.
  • Larry O'Toole for taking up Annette's request on the behalf of all of us involved in Street Rodding.
  • The VHRA, for treating Charlie and his small support team like real VIP's, including free entry and goodies to take home.
  • Peter Unsworth and Ron Smith. To take the time out from running such a large public event, to personally welcome Charlie at the front entry, and allocate their time throughout the rest of their busy day for Charlie, made the day even more special.
  • The members of Let's Go Cruisin' who picked up Charlie and cruised with him to the Hot Rod Show - Craig Warren and Carole Barlain, Ron and Cheryl Mills and Alan Newton, along with Bill Duyvestyn who worked the inside at the show to make our arrival smooth.
It think it was a pretty good day for all involved, but a very special day for Charlie and Street Rodding. I don't think Charlie will ever forget his day at the Hot Rod Show.

There are more "Charlies" out in the community we are part of, and we, with Oz E Rodders and others will be investigating ways we can bring some "fun with street rods" to them in the future. But if you're involved in street rodding, don't wait around for us, get with your club members or mates and make something happen for those less fortunate in your community. After all, going for a short cruise in our own ride usually puts a smile on our face, it'll work for others as well!

Just to finish off this email from Annette make it all worthwhile.

To Alan
Must thank you and all involved for such a great day. We got home ok and thank God the cab had air conditioning. The heat did knock Charlie around a bit but he wanted to see everything before leaving, twice. I cant express how much it means to myself to see him just have the time of his life and you guys have had a hand it making it happen. "more than a great day, thank you so much "
Annette Schembri

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Helping Charlie out of Craig's Roadster is Ron and Bill (right) who coordinated things at the show, with Peter and young grandson Dylan looking on.
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