Charity partners excited to be part of 2019 Harper cruise

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published August 20, 2019

 Cars head down Harper Avenue during the 2018 cruise. This year’s cruise is set for Aug. 28.

Cars head down Harper Avenue during the 2018 cruise. This year’s cruise is set for Aug. 28.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes


ST. CLAIR SHORES — It’s right in the name: Shorewood Kiwanis Harper Charity Cruise.

Although classic car cruises and shows abound throughout the summer, it is the only 100% charity car cruise in Michigan, during which Shorewood Kiwanis partners with five other local charities to gather donations and sell cruise T-shirts for their cause.

This year, a few new organizations are joining the cruise on Aug. 28.

This is the first year that Gilda’s Club’s Lake House location is participating as a charity partner in the cruise.

“We’re very excited about it, both for the fundraising part of it, but even more for the visibility of it,” said Madeline Bialecki, director of the Lake House location.

Volunteers will be sporting their red Gilda’s T-shirts the night of the cruise, she said.

Shorewood Kiwanis occupies space in the Pare Nonprofit Center, as does Gilda’s Club’s Lake House location.

“They invited us and Big Family of Michigan to be a part of it this year,” Bialecki said. “It’s just the potential to (reach) a whole new audience that we probably haven’t reached out to before.”

Bialecki said that when The Lake House became part of Gilda’s Club, it expanded its support programs and now also offers support groups for men. One of its members, in fact, is a car enthusiast, and he plans to park his classic car by the table for Gilda’s Club’s Lake House location to help the club sell cruise T-shirts.

“For us, it’s all about the visibility. It really is a great opportunity to be visible and for people to start connecting Gilda’s Club with us to know that Gilda’s Club is on the east side,” Bialecki said.

The Lakeshore Family YMCA has been a charity partner with the cruise in the past.

“One of our basic pillars of the Y is social responsibility to the community,” said Branch Operations Director Doug Edwards. “Part of that responsibility is to positively affect the community by growing and strengthening our charity partners.”

Nearly a dozen volunteers from the YMCA will be outside  Kapone’s Sports Bar selling T-shirts and other cruise items to raise money for the YMCA and Shorewood Kiwanis.

Lakeshore Family YMCA Childcare Director Nicole Dishon said that the cruise is a great event to wind up the summer.

“I think it’s a great way for the Y to get its name out in the community since it is a fun, upbeat and exciting event in the Shores,” she said in an email message.

In addition, Maggie’s Wigs 4 Kids of Michigan and the St. Clair Shores Cultural Committee are participating in the cruise.

“We want to be a part of the community, and part of that is partnering with organizations that help the community,” Edwards said. “We see them (Shorewood Kiwanis) as an integral partner to help the community.”