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Rochester Gift of Life car show raises funds for families and patients facing transplants

Gift of Life Transplant House held it second annual car show on Saturday, with all proceeds going toward the house and its work to provide transplant patients with affordable housing.

Gift of Life Car Show
Lucas Cropp polishes the Ford small block engine inside his 1994 Mustang during the Gift of Life Car Show in Rochester on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022.
Tucker Allen Covey / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — On Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022, a Rochester Event Center’s parking lot turned time capsule became the scene of a car show, featuring cars from decades past help support folks hoping for better health in the future.

The Gift of Life Transplant House hosted its second annual car show Saturday morning, with all proceeds from ticket sales and car registration going towards the organization that helps transplant patients and their families with affordable housing during their stays for surgery and recovery.

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The mission of Gift of Life is to “provide transplant patients and their caregivers with high quality, affordable accommodations in a supportive, home-like environment.”

Mary Wilder is the organization’s executive director and was at Saturday’s car show, where she helped kick off the event and announced winners of the event’s raffle prizes.

Wilder said that because car shows are popular in Rochester, and Gift of Life was looking for an outdoor fundraiser to be safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization decided on a car show, the goal of which is to introduce people to the organization and the work it does.


“It raises community awareness,” Wilder said. “That’s the main purpose of it.”

Saturday’s show attracted a variety of cars from each decade, starting with the 1930s and continuing into the 21st century.

The older cars at the show were a Ford 1930 Model A Tudor Sedan and 1932 Roadster. Other standouts were a pale yellow 1968 Volkswagen Beetle, now known for being the model Ted Bundy drove, and a 1977 Volkswagen Westfalia Camper.

Gift of Life Car Show
A restored Volkswagen camper van at the Gift of Life Car Show in Rochester on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022.
Tucker Allen Covey / Post Bulletin

Bryce Wentworth, drawn to come to the event because of its charitable aspect, brought his 1977 sage Chevrolet Camaro, which he found on Craigslist and flew down to Phoenix to get.

Wentworth is not new to car shows. He’s a member of Stewartville’s Stewie Cruisers, which holds “Friday Night Cruise Ins” every week.

According to Wentworth, car shows are kind of a “social thing” and Gift of Life’s car show in particular is a way to “give back to the community.”

Jose Rivas, a local architect who also helped organize the event, said this annual car show stands out because of the amount of different cars it brings in in comparison to more frequent shows, which often showcase a similar group of cars throughout their events.

Planning for this year started happening right after last year’s event, Rivas said. The group wanted to learn how to make the event bigger, which they were able to do as the event saw double the turnout from last year.


Just before 1 p.m., the organizers announced the winners of the “Corporate Partner Choice Gift of Life Car Show 2022.”

On a table sat 15 golden trophies: one for each of sponsors who was able to judge the cars and select a favorite.

Gift of Life Car Show
Owners and attendees mill about the parking lot of the Rochester International Events center during the Gift of Life Car Show in Rochester on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022.
Tucker Allen Covey / Post Bulletin

Jessica Taylor, the director of sales for Even Hotels and Staybridge Suites, ran a booth for the company alongside her father and daughter and mentioned how transplant patients can stay in the hotels at discounted prices while waiting for a spot at Gift of Life

“We have a great relationship with them,” Taylor said. “We partner with them to be good stewards of the community.”

Bella Carpentier is a journalism and political science student at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (UMN-TC). She is currently the managing editor of the student-run paper at UMN-TC, the Minnesota Daily. While reporting for the Minnesota Daily, she covered student activism and issues affecting the university's student body. Working for the Post Bulletin, Bella hopes to build community connections and advance her reporting skills. Readers can reach Bella at bcarpentier@postbulletin.com.
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