Submitted by Robert Cook, Public Affairs, Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital (Bedford VA)
The Oval at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital (Bedford VA) was filled to capacity with more than 575 Corvettes from across New England, the country and Canada during the 12th annual Vettes to Vets rally. The event began with an impressive parade that stretched from Billerica to the Bedford VA, where hundreds of Corvettes parked in formation on the hospital grounds.
The Dan Lawson Band provided live music as members of the Air Force Association served hot dogs and hamburgers. Special acknowledgment and gratitude was expressed to the Gold Star Mothers in attendance at the event, which was held on Sunday, September 27th, Gold Star Mother’s Day.
Veterans enjoyed casting their ballots for the “Veterans Choice” trophy which was awarded to Stan Baukus and his 1954 orange full custom Corvette. Visitors to Bedford VA had the opportunity enjoy the Corvettes and learn more about the services Bedford VA offers to our Veterans.
Vettes to Vets began in 2003 when Ron Morneau, a proud Corvette owner and member of the Second Corps Cadets Veterans Group, asked the Corvette community to help support sick and injured troops who have given up so much. The first event was a success with 25 cars and “Vettes to Vets” has been supporting the hospital each year with much-needed donations of personal supplies and it has been increasing in numbers ever since.
“I was absolutely thrilled,” said Karen Blandini, chairperson of the volunteer group, Vettes to Vets, about this year’s overall turn out. Cash donations and donated items for the Veterans at Bedford VA poured in before, during and after the event, she added.
She also believes there were more Corvettes that participated in this year’s event than in 2014, which is a testament to the drivers’ commitment to the support of our Veterans.
“It’s not about the number of cars. It’s about the fact that we raise awareness and we raise funds for the Veterans,” said Blandini.
The reason so many Veterans love the Corvette, she said, is because it was the sports car of their youth and that generates a great deal of nostalgia.
“It’s America’s only sports car. It’s just a classic iconic American car and it is the one they all wanted to have in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s,” Blandini said.
The combination of the classic American sports car and the drivers’ patriotism and caring for our Veterans are what drives Vettes to Vets each year. Blandini knows the Veterans really appreciate the Corvette drivers’ efforts.
“It’s nice for the world to see that there’s a bunch of people who really are patriotic who want to come out and support our Veterans,” Blandini said.