Four years ago, before thoughts of establishing the Midwest Blue Oval Club took root, some of the founding members held a car show in Salem, Mo., and the proceeds went to the high school marching band.
“(In) small communities like Salem, the marching band is important,” said Jeff Yergovich, a founding member of the club. “There were games on Friday evening where kids didn’t have instruments and they pretended they had instruments in their hands. We thought we could make some kind of difference there because they weren’t funded by the government, city or anything.
“By the time we did that for a couple of years, every kid had an instrument for the football game. We thought it was important. It doesn’t sound like much, but we thought it was.”
Salem, about 250 miles southeast of Kansas City, is the hometown of Randy League, the first vice president of the Midwest Blue Oval Club. It meant a lot to him to be able to give the band director $987.
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“Everything we raised we handed over to the high school band director,” League said. “The look on her face convinced us that we wanted to make sure it was all going to charity. Not only that, we wanted it to stay in small communities and know our money was doing something.”
Those feelings were solidified two years ago, Yergovich said, when they were working a different car show and found out much of the money raised failed to reach the intended charity.
“We left participating in that show and decided the best thing to do was start our own club and make sure the funds that came out of the show were actually going to a charity,” Yergovich said.
Yergovich knew they had the knowledge to run a car show. Some of the members were coordinators of Midwest Ford Fest that ran events at a Kansas City drag strip. A few others were coordinators of the River City Cruisers, a nonprofit organization that donates its profits to local charities in Hermann, Mo.
Basically, the group of individuals from the Kansas City and surrounding areas were Ford enthusiasts who wanted to make difference, particularly in rural communities.
So one day in 2014, they met at Yergovich’s Lee’s Summit home and started hatching out plans to start the Midwest Blue Oval Club.
“When we initially set it up, I wanted to do it right,” Yergovich said. “Everybody was agreement in the first meeting and then it was, ‘How do we do it?’”
They put in the proper paperwork to become a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. They said their books are always open to show exactly where the money is going.
“We try to include in our shows one charity that benefits children and one that benefits older people,” said Al Rutherford, president of the Midwest Blue Oval Club.
Its very first show as Midwest Blue Oval Club was a year ago in Buffalo, Mo., which is north of Springfield. Last weekend they made their return to Buffalo. They are friends with the owner of a machine shop there.
“He wanted to do a car show, and the previous year it was a disaster – wasn’t well organized,” Yergovich said. “He asked if our club could come down and take the show over. We went down last year, and it ran smoothly. All the participants were amazed how well it went.”
The money raised went to the Shriners in Buffalo and a food pantry.
“We had no idea what we were walking into or what was coming,” Yergovich said. “We had 170 cars show up for the show in Buffalo. The Shriners were shocked. I think the food pantry was blown away they were getting something.
“We knew we were doing the right thing and then it was just refining, what we can do better.”
Some of the money raised comes from entry fees for the cars, which is $25 each.
“(For) the Buffalo show and the Salem show, it can be any brand, any car, so we could raise more funds for the community,” said Fran Rutherford, the club’s registration director. “That is what we are about. By opening it up, we were able to do it. The rest of our shows will be Ford products.”
In the first year, they did four shows. They have five shows planned for this year. The next one is the Current River Blue Oval Rally in Salem on Sept. 12-13. The town cruise will run from 6 to 9 p.m. on Sept. 12. It will be an American Graffiti style cruise. Participants are encouraged to come dressed for the era that represents their car.
Yergovich said they make the shows fun for families. The cars are not judged.
“In Hermann, Mo., we get a group of kids together and they pick the car and that is the Kids Award,” Yergovich said. “It might not be the nicest car that gets it, but it is the choice somebody made. It is non-judged family fun event.”
Monte Strait, one of the newer members of the club, is impressed by what the founding members have established. The club started out with 15 members and has grown to 30 members.
“What these folks do is help people who honestly need it,” Strait said. “This club helps local people who need it
“In all honesty, all of our shows are so different from one another. Everyone has its local flavor.”
To learn more about the club, go to www.midwestblueoval.club.
If you have a story you would like to see in Making a Difference, email David Boyce at Drive@ksctar.com