Cruise for a Cause is coming up on its 10th anniversary.
The event will take place Tuesday, July 27 at the All Stop Travel Plaza between Lodi and Arlington, starting at 5 p.m.
Ralph and Mary Cornell have been involved with Cruise for a Cause from the beginning. It raises money for the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center. So far, approximately $64,000 has been collected.
“We’d like to make it to $75,000, but we’ll take what we can get,” said Mary, one of many volunteers who help put on Cruise for a Cause, as well as the Cruise Days events on Tuesdays at All-Stop. “In 10 years, if we could raise $75,000 in a little town like Lodi, I’d say we’d be doing pretty good.”
Ralph, Mary’s husband, added, “It’s a great feeling to know you’re doing something worthwhile.”
Sarah Alsaker, a representative of the company that bought All Stop just over a year ago, wants to see a record turnout this year.
“I hope we blow it out of the water,” said Alsaker.
Next year, it will be the 20th anniversary of Cruise Days. Former All Stop owners Kim and Cindy Reeve and Roland and Cristi Maier partnered to develop All-Stop Travel Plaza in Lodi in 1999. Cristi Maier and Cindy Reeve both were later diagnosed with breast cancer.
After Cindy had been given just four months to live, her daughter Kari and Kari’s friend, Nellie, decided to do something to help.
Cruise for a Cause was born out of the weekly car show during the summer held at All Stop, with the help of All Stop employees and regular car cruisers, to raise money for research.
“We all felt we wanted to do what we could,” said Mary. “Everyone is very community oriented.”
Mary said she’s had several family members who’ve contracted cancer – some have survived, and some haven’t. She said that with the money raised from Cruise for a Cause, the hope is that one day the research will yield treatment to prevent people from getting it.
Last year, Cruise for the Cause was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event has drawn a crowd in the past. The Cornells said that 1,200 to 1,500 people attended Cruise for a Cause two years ago.
Activities for this year’s event are similar to those that have taken place in the past. Elvis Presley tribute artist Tony Rocker, who’s performed on cruise ships and in Branson, Missouri, will provide musical entertainment. There will also be a silent auction. Volunteers have gone to local businesses to ask for items to be put up for auction. A bake sale is also going to be held, with volunteers making treats to be sold at the event. This year’s sponsor is Bill’s Towing.
A 50-50 raffle will also be part of the event, with half of the money raised going to the winner and the other half going to Carbone.
“It’s a really big event,” said Mary.
A big tent is put up on site for the silent auction. It’s referred to as the “big top.”
While the event is free, donations are appreciated. This year, those who donate will receive a special button, designed by a friend who lives in California. It features a cartoon of mascots “Rocky and Rudy” driving in an old car, flanked by two pink ribbons.
Alsaker said there will also be special travel mugs and coupons for use at All Stop restaurant locations.
This year’s event will also feature a speaker, Dr. Katie Williquette. She’s expected to talk for about 10 minutes and the Cornells say she stays around afterward for conversations with attendees.
Organizers are hoping for nice weather. On nights when the conditions are good, about 200 cars turn out for Cruise Days. There is a rain date for Cruise for a Cause. It is Wednesday, July 28.