Donor Stories: American Cruisers

American Cruisers benefit for Burn Center marks 30 years of giving

American Cruisers present MetroHealth Burn Unit with a fundraising check
Representatives from American Cruisers and the GM Parma Plant presenting part of their donation to MetroHealth’s Burn Unit Manager Andrew Neading and the MetroHealth Foundation’s Abbie Sender.

Nearly three decades ago, Louie Plaza came to his fellow car buffs at the Cleveland-based American Cruisers Ohio car club with an idea. Plaza worked at MetroHealth, and following a conversation with Dr. Richard Fratianne, founder of MetroHealth's nationally recognized Burn Center, he convinced his fellow car enthusiasts to create a car show and raise money.

"Louie is the one that came to the group and said we are a club of young, healthy people from the neighborhood," shared fellow club member and long-time car show co-coordinator Judie Richards. "He told us we need to do something to give back to our community."

The club got the ball rolling and created an annual event that just marked its 30th anniversary on May 19. The 2024 American Cruisers Annual MetroHealth Burn Center Car Show had an estimated 500 cars on display at the parking lot of the GM Parma Plant. This is nearly double the amount they have seen in previous years, and American Cruisers expects this year’s donation to similarly increase. 

With this, American Cruisers and GM have together raised more than $250,000 to date to benefit the MetroHealth Burn Center Adult Survivors Group of Cuyahoga County.
The show includes all years, makes, and models of cars, from the beautiful nostalgic classics to high-tech and state-of-the-art new cars to project cars and just recently, motorcycles. The event has gone from club members grilling their own hot dogs to an all-day event with food trucks, live music and a check presentation to benefit burn survivors.

"Anyone can get burned at any time," said co-coordinator Shenan Cleveland. "These survivors need our support to pay for items not covered by insurance like burn sleeves and other equipment and to attend events like the World Burn Congress – an international conference that welcomes hundreds of burn survivors, their families, caregivers, burn-care professionals, and firefighters."

Dr. Richard Fratianne, who founded the Burn Center in 1970, is eternally grateful for the support the car club has given to MetroHealth over the years.

"They have more than lived up to their commitment," said Dr. Fratianne. "It is a remarkable relationship because they are genuinely trying to help patients who have survived terrible injuries. It's a mark of human compassion – doing something they love and devoting it toward someone they don't even know."


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