WATSONVILLE — Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds will host its fourth annual Hot Rods for Kids event Saturday to help raise funds for Jacob’s Heart Cancer Support Services.
“We started the event back in 2010 as a way to raise awareness for children in need in our community,” said Vanessa Johnson of Classic Vapor Dry Cleaners, one of several local businesses sponsoring the event.
The event also will feature live music from local bands, food vendors, a kid’s zone and a variety of custom cars, all competing for the attention of Jacob’s Heart kids, who will judge the cars, according to categories, which they choose.
“It’ll be pretty cool,” Johnson said. “One kid is really into cars but the other kids “… who knows what they’re going to pick.”
Jacob’s Heart was founded in 1998, when 5-year-old Jacob was diagnosed with leukemia.
“A friend of the family watched what they went through,” said Susan Osorio, executive director of Jacob’s Heart. “She started bringing together families at the hospital and it grew from there.”
Jacob’s Heart provides support services to families whose child is facing cancer, as well as quality-of-life care for the child. The organization also is celebrating its 15th anniversary.
“[The event is] twofold,” said Osorio. “It’s going to be a great time, but also it’s a chance for people to raise awareness in terms of pediatric cancer and a chance for them to give back.”
The event also will feature Jessica Fitz, a 23-year-old who, with the help of Jacob’s Heart, overcame her battle against heart cancer.
Hot Rods for Kids is one of the program’s vital funding sources for essential programs within Jacob’s Heart.
“The funds from Hot Rods for Kids will go to toward direct services — counseling, case management, art therapy and support groups,” Osorio said. “We provide them with social and financial assistance.”
Osorio said she was pleased with all of the support they’ve received from local businesses.
“They just approached us and asked if they would be interesting in working with them and they’ve been very supportive of our mission,” Osorio said. “We couldn’t do what we do without [their] support.”
However Johnson maintains that the local businesses are only too happy to help the children in need.
“Children in our area need the help and the awareness. It’s 143 families locally,” Johnson said. “They need our help; they need anything that they can get.”
Hot Rods for Kids is free. For more information visit www.hotrods4kids.com.
Follow Sentinel reporter Luke Barnes at Twitter.com/LukeBarnes1292
IF YOU GO
Hot Rods for Kids
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds, 2601 E. Lake Ave., Watsonville
COST: Free entry, $35 to register vehicle for event