Classic cars rev up donations for charity

Photo opportunities raise thousands for needy kids

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Classic car owner Dave Dean is this week's News 6 Getting Results Award winner. 

Every weekend for nearly 30 years, Old Town in Kissimmee has hosted a classic car show and cruise.

And every week, Dean is one of the first to pull into the shopping and entertainment complex parking lot.

"I've been doing this for 28 years," Dean said. "And every week, I can't wait to get out here."

Dean's 1957 Chevrolet Bellaire convertible is a crowd favorite. The seafoam green paint shines under the bright lights. It seems that, every few minutes, someone is posing in front of it for a photo. 

"A lot of people come up to me and ask if they can sit in it," Dean said. "I say, 'Well sure, you can sit in it.'"

Jennifer Gates and her family, visiting from Atlanta, said she couldn't resist posing in front of the midcentury classic.

"I'm old school. It's my birthday, and I love whitewall tires," she said. 

The vehicle's popularity gave Dean an idea a few years ago, so he began placing a donation box near the car to raise money for charity.

"I thought we'd get a couple hundred dollars," Dean said, never expecting what would happen next. 

Dean said he had been collecting toys for Osceola County children at Christmastime and the donations were getting smaller every year.

He thought the crowds at Old Town would show their generosity, and he was right. Last year, he raised $6,500 for the Osceola Council on Aging, which distributes the toys. It was enough to fill a 20-foot box truck to the roof.  

Every Saturday night, Dean's Chevy, Bob Beach's 1949 Willy Jeep and Kay Smith's 1931 Ford Model A take center stage. Each car displays at least one sign promoting the photo opportunities. 

"It's awesome," said Juan Pablo Rubio, who was vacationing from Argentina. "When I read the sign saying that it was for child charity, I thought, 'This is a great idea.'"

"It's ear to ear smiles," said Beach, leaning on his olive green Jeep. "Dave always has good ideas for the community." 

The weekly show and cruise regularly attracts hundreds of cars and thousands of spectators.

Jennifer Johnston, part of the Old Town event staff, said Dean has been a part of the community from the begining.

"He's always looking for ways to make people happy," she said. "I think it's his heart. He has a heart of gold."

"I'm just an easygoing guy," Dean said. "If I can help, that makes my day."

Carmen Carrasquillo, chief operations officer for the Osceola Council on Aging, said Dean's generosity has made a difference for the families she helps.

"He's so humble," she said. "He doesn't want recognition. It comes from the heart."   

Osceola Council on Aging donated toys to over 200 children this past holiday. 


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