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Project American Heroes II Unveiling at the Joliet Super Chevy Show
Project American Heroes has taken on a life of its own. The build of a single '57 Chevy convertible was parlayed into a $130,000 donation to the Armed Forces Foundation at the Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach auction. But why stop there? At least that was the thinking of Super Chevy publisher Ed Zinke. Why not do a sequel?
Why not indeed? But we're getting ahead of ourselves. On its Web site (www.armedforcesfoundation.org), the Armed Forces Foundation describes its mission thusly: "To promote the morale, welfare, and quality of life of the United States Armed Forces community, including active duty personnel, national guardsmen, reservists, and retired personnel and their families."
Of all the donations received, 96.4 percent goes directly to military members and their families. And they put those funds to good use. "The foundation has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for hotel bills, and to offset the expenses of families visiting a loved one in the hospital. Programs offered through the foundation include the Family Assistance Program, Injured Support Services, the Housing Assistance Program for troops returning to their communities after injury, Family Bereavement Assistance for surviving family members, direct financial assistance, as well as the Classic Outdoors Sports Program, which includes hunting and fishing programs for troops and their families. The staff of the foundation regularly visits with wounded troops at the Bethesda National Naval Medical Center and Walter Reed Army Medical Center to provide support, give gifts and show them our appreciation for their service and sacrifice."
Consider the sacrifices of our men and women who serve in the armed forces. As we went to press, the Iraq war has claimed 4,566 of America's finest fighting men and women. While we sit comfortably in our air-conditioned homes, offices, schools, and rolling Chevrolet chariots, our soldiers are laying down their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. The reality of a world filled with terrorism and political unrest makes the need for a strong military absolutely essential. The sacrifices of our fighting men and women are harvesting a crop of safety and security for our homeland.
Sacrifice is made not only on the battlefield, but also by the families of our soldiers. Consider the families of our servicemen and women. How many children go through life without their dads or moms to cheer them on at their baseball games, dance recitals, or first day at school? Even more heartrending, think of the families who have had to bury their loved ones. Yet, invariably, these courageous families go on to live exemplary lives of bravery and patriotism, honoring by their lives the memory of their loved ones.
With the war still raging, and casualties continuing, we determined that Project American Heroes 2008 had to happen. Wanting to mix it up a bit, Publisher Zinke, Editor Jim Campisano, and Associate Publisher Joe Rode decided to go with Chevy's icon, the '69 Camaro. After all, there's always room for another '69 Camaro.
Project American Heroes 2008 is being built at Route 66 Motorsports in New Lenox, Illinois, owned by Bill Jelinek. Bill is well-known in the Chicagoland area for building jaw-dropping, award-winning hot rods. He owns a host of Chevy musclecars, and just completed his own spectacular '69 Camaro that was honored at the most recent Super Chevy Show at Joliet, Illinois. Possibly the most prolific "First Gen" Camaro street machine builder in the Midwest, his experience and eye for cool made him a logical choice.
Jelinek also has a love for his country and the highest regard for our military.
The Van Nuys-built Camaro selected for the PAH 2008 build started life as a LeMans Blue/black vinyl top SS car. But this Camaro will not be stock. Rather, it promises to be a stunning car, equipped with state-of-the-art performance parts. Like last year, Armed Forces personnel will vote on their favorite of five Eric Brockmeyer renderings as shown at www.projectamericanheroes.net. Though last year's winning blue combination was stunning, Brockmeyer has produced five fantastic visions for the build of the Project American Heroes 2008 '69 Camaro in a variety of flavors.
Visit the Web site to learn how you can donate to The Armed Forces Foundation. Better yet, buy this car at top dollar! Hear the words of Abraham Lincoln, as cited by The Armed Forces Foundation, "...to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan... to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations."
As citizens of the greatest nation on God's earth, we can do no less than come alongside our heroes and their families.