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AVF Car Show Honors Military, First Responders
AVF CEO Duke Cooper, at right, recognized Vietnam Veterans of America Director Steve Rogers for all his support and efforts within the veteran community along with AVF Board Member Shirley Serato. - photo by VIRGINIA STILL

The heat was on but so was the patriotic pride at the American Veterans First (AVF) Car Show this past Saturday, July 16 in Riverbank. Guests rolled in throughout the day making this another sensational event for AVF.

There were about 80 classic cars spread out in the parking lot at AVF headquarters on Oakdale Road. Spectators viewed vehicles, trucks and motorcycles in a variety of years, makes, and models. There was music being played while people mingled.

The number of cars and people were down a bit from previous car shows but the excitement and support for the event was up.

Founder and AVF CEO Duke Cooper greeted guests and thanked everyone for coming along with board members and volunteers. Although the day was hot and there were other events going on in the area, Cooper expressed that the event was a success.

“This show is all about the fallen,” stated Cooper. “Those that gave up their yesterday for our today.”

The opening ceremony began with a prayer and then the National Anthem. Riverbank Police Services Deputy Maldonado – a Marine veteran – posted the colors. Sheriff Jeff Dirkse led everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance. In true AVF fashion each battle hymn for the different branches was played and guests that served in those branches were asked to step forward when their song played. Cooper also asked any first responders to join them and thanked them as well for their sacrifice. Also, Taps was played, which commemorates the memory of military members.

Riverbank Councilmember Luis Uribe showed his support for AVF and their event. Uribe served in the United States Air Force for two years.

“The opening ceremony was a very nice tribute to our veterans and first responders,” replied Uribe. “Well deserved as always.”

Vietnam Veterans of America Director Steve Rogers was recognized for his service, efforts in helping veterans and collaboration with AVF and was presented a plaque. There were vendors on hand like Tie Dye by Justine Davis, Homes for Heroes, Freedom Guns n Trucks, Donelson Rustic Design, Big Mama’s Designs by AVF Board Member Shirley Serato, and Golden Sunny Balloons by Ryelie out of Oakdale. Disabled American Veterans Chapter 26 out of Modesto had a booth set up and Finance Group that is a Veteran Mortgage Advisor on hand. Mid-Cal Blue Star Moms had a booth to answer questions and had sheets for kids to color so they could drop those pictures in care packages for service members.

The museum was opened for guests to visit with artifacts and history from the Civil War to Iraq and Afghanistan. The museum is still a work in progress but Cooper said they plan to have a grand opening on Saturday, July 30 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Stanislaus County Sheriff Department had their Bomb Squad posted up available for questions along with their bomb robot and the truck open for people to go through.

“Many people stopped by the Bomb squad display and folks were given the opportunity to see the inside of the Bomb Squad truck and see how the robot works,” remarked Sergeant Steve Hatzigeorgiou. “Folks were very interested in what the bomb squad does.”

A surprise event took place at the car show that was well received by guests. During the afternoon the Sheriff’s Department flew their new Bell 407 GXP helicopter over the event with sirens blaring.

There were different food options and several raffle prizes as well.

“Although I am not a ‘car guy’ myself, it was nice to hear stories from residents about all the work, time, and effort that goes into rebuilding some of the cars we saw at the event,” relayed Uribe.

Cooper noted that a highlight for him was recognizing all the service members and first responders as well as WWII veteran Alan Taylor and Gold Star father Mike Anderson. The Ripon JROTC volunteered and assisted in setting up and tearing down.

The Car Show participants received awards in a number of categories like Best Motorcycle, Best Hot Rod, and People’s Choice. All funds raised will go to AVF programs that help veterans and to do outreach that includes meals, socks, hygiene products, and services.

“We are non-profit,” said Cooper. “If it wasn’t for our friends out there that support us and the government grants that we get, we would not be able to do what we do. We’re funded by our friends that continually support us.”

The AVF Car Show to remember those that have given the ultimate sacrifice had a variety of cars, trucks, and motorcycles for spectators to check out this past Saturday. - photo by VIRGINIA STILL
AVF Executive Secretary Paige McLaughlin, AVF Board Member and Museum Director Gloria Robertson and Director of Veterans Outreach and Board Member Shirley Serato assist in making AVF events and programs a success. - photo by VIRGINIA STILL