The Curry Coastal Pilot

SMITH RIVER andndash; At first it was just one more car show for Tom Lee. The classic car collector from Smith River doesn't miss many of them, so it was only natural for him to take part in the annual MDA Benefit Car Show.

Then he got to know two of the organizers, Dayle Niemie and Bill Hamilton of Brookings. They both have muscular dystrophy, and gradually the work of putting on the show became too much for them.

"(Niemie) and Bill Hamilton did the whole thing," Lee said. "He was ready to give it up."

So in stepped Lee, who is president of the Curry County Cruisers car club. He's been organizing the event for the last three years, and this weekend he'll do his fourth.

The 14th annual MDA Benefit Car Show runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in the front parking lot of Lucky 7 Casino, 350 N. Indian Road, Smith River. About 100 classic vehicles are expected to be on display, mostly cars but also 10 to 12 trucks and two or three motorcycles.

Vehicle owners from as far away as Redding, Calif., and Eugene will participate, but only about half of the expected participants have made their plans known. The rest will just show up before, or even during, the event.

That's how car shows work, and "I never turn anyone away," Lee said. "We'll find room for them."

The entry fee is $25 per car.

In addition to all those classic rigs on display, the event will feature cash and prize raffles and 50/50 drawings. Deejay Kevin Bane of KURY Radio will be spinning tunes throughout the day, and Passin' Notes, a sister duo from Bandon, will perform songs from the 1950s, '60s and '70s from 1 to 2 p.m.

"Those girls are amazing," Lee said of the sisters who make up Passin' Notes.

And it's all for a good cause. Each year, the car show raises $4,000 to $5,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, a nonprofit health agency dedicated to curing muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases by funding worldwide research.

All money raised at the car show will help fund local MDA programs and services, including support goups and equipment such as wheelchairs and leg braces. Proceeds also support a clinic at Providence Medford Medical Center and help send Oregon children with muscle-wasting diseases to MDA summer camp each year.

Back when Niemie and Hamilton were well enough to run the event, they used to take the proceeds to the MDA office in Medford and present them on national television during the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon held on Labor Day weekend.

Both are expected to be at Saturday's show, Lee said.

The organizer lauded Lucky 7 Casino, which coordinates the event and provides money for T-shirts and about 40 trophies.