Afternoon thunderstorms tested the dedication of Corvette owners and visitors at the annual Corvettes for Kids fundraiser on Sunday, Aug. 10, at Washington Township Elementary School, Barto.Dark skies and lightening reduced the number of participants but many sports car owners still came to give their support. Rain ushered visitors inside for the live and silent auctions around noon.

For the 23rd year, volunteers hosted the car show and auction fundraiser to help the family of a child with medical challenges. This year's recipient is Dorian Burnell, the seven-year-old son of Jason and Meghan Burnell of Boyertown.

Dorian and his family have endured a number of medical and financial difficulties due to spina bifida, hydrocephalus and related conditions.

Despite his daily difficulties, Dorian easily greets everyone with a smile. His 13-year-old cousin, Dalton, pushed his wheelchair around the parking lot as Dorian inspected the Corvettes and dunked his baseball coach, Dennis Pederson, at the dunking booth.

"Dorian is a bundle of joy," said Chip Conrad, board president of the non-profit organization. "He has been an inspiration to all of us throughout the year.

"The most difficult part of this event is selecting the beneficiary out of the applications we receive," he said. "We have to decide who we can help the most. It is not easy."

The gloomy economic climate made it more difficult for donations and bidders this year but many still dug deep in their pockets to give whatever they could. Some of the big-ticket items included a Taylor Backes hand-blown glass bowl, a Tri County Area Chamber of Commerce membership and advertising, and a Klein Transportation's motor coach trip to Atlantic City for 40 persons.

As of the Times' press deadline, the final total of the funds collected was not available. In prior years, the event raised more than $50,000 for the recipient. The organization holds the funds in a trust and distributes it to the family for medical and other expenses not covered by insurance.

In addition to car registration fees and auction receipts from business and private donations, volunteers also raise funds through kids' games and activities; sales of used books, baked goods, food, t-shirts and raffle tickets; and corporate sponsors and advertisers.

A special feature for this year was the appearance of Star Wars characters, including Darth Vader, by Garrison Carida, a chapter of the 501st Legion.

Donations, made payable to "Corvettes for Kids, Inc.," may still be sent to Corvettes for Kids, Inc., P.O. Box 233, Sassamansville, PA 19472.

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