Emotions were running as high as the roaring sounds of the Screamin’ Eagles motorcycles that pulled into Johnston Town Centre last Thursday evening.
The Johnston Street Machines group brought the curtain down on its 2016 Cruizin’ for a Cause season by presenting 20 trophies to owners of classic cars and motorcycles. More importantly, its organizers made another donation to a Rhode Island non-profit.
“When we started the Johnston Street Machines, our sole purpose was to give back to the community,” said Gary Maddocks, the group’s president. “We selected a specific charity and donated the total proceeds from all four weeks of a month to that selected non-profit.”
September’s selected charity – as Maddocks told a crowd of Cruizin’ for a Cause participants who each paid $5 to show their vehicles and spectators who consistently supported the 50/50 raffle – was the Victoria Alviti Music Foundation. The non-profit was presented with a check for $1,200.
Maddocks made it known that September’s benefactor was selected by George Arakelian and his wife Gina Sabitoni-Arakelian because of their long friendship with the Alviti family.
“Victoria [Alviti] was a vibrant, larger-than-life, 22-year-old woman who loved music,” Maddocks said. “She was a disc jockey and model until she passed away in a tragic car accident. She had a vision to create a foundation committed to keeping music programs in schools, and we’re honored to make this donation to that charity.”
Victoria’s mother, Sharon Alviti, was on hand last Thursday night to help present trophies to 20 classic car and motorcycles owners and to accept what she called an “extraordinary donation.”
“My daughter would have been thrilled,” she said. “She would also proud that since the foundation was established, we’ve given a total of $100,000 in music scholarships, and tonight’s donation will certainly extend that amount. We can’t thank you enough.”
Lisa Dolman of Cranston, an important member of the Victoria Alviti Music Foundation team who also helped during last Thursday night’s trophy presentations, echoed those sentiments.
“This is really, really special,” she said. “On behalf of Sharon and the Alviti family, we thank everyone who made this possible.”
The Arakelians, who also donated each and every trophy for last Thursday’s finale, were also thrilled.
In keeping with tradition, the Johnston Street Machines presented a total of 20 trophies, with the annual Mayor Joseph Polisena award going to Rodman Chuddy for 1956 blue four-door Chevrolet. He also took home “DJ Car-Guy” Richard George’s trophy for Best in the Show. Chuddy works at the new O’Reilly’s Auto Parts store located at 2750 Hartford Ave.
The annual Richard S. Tauburini Trophy went to Dave Blanchette, a faithful attendee at Cruizin’ for a Cause, for his green 1968 Ford Mustang.
Tony “Chief Two Fathers” Rossi, a member of the Screamin’ Eagles motorcycle group that attended almost every weekly Cruizin’ for a Cause during the 2016 season, won George’s trophy in the motorcycle division judging.
“Richard’s disc jockey work really added to the nostalgia of this year’s cruises,” Maddocks said. “We also appreciate his emcee work during all of our trophy presentations and overall work. He’s a valuable member of the Johnston Street Machines.”
Maddocks also heaped words of praise upon 50/50 raffle coordinators Debbie Simone and Kyle DeFalco, “who came to us and asked if they could help, and without them we wouldn’t be able to raise the funds we do for our charities.”
“The Johnston Street Machines would also like to thank Pete Lombardi and Russ Smith for their help, as well as our sponsors,” Maddocks added. “We especially went to thank Denny’s Restaurant and manger Stephen J. Young for their valuable sponsorships both this year and last year.”
Five Guys Restaurant was also among the sponsors for the weekly events, along with A Custom Car Stereo, Auto Zone, Cherry Hill Grill, Atwood Auto Wash, Anthony’s Auto Body, Advance Auto Parts, and O’Reilly Auto Parts.
“We will be back next year the first Thursday in May,” Maddocks said. “We will continue to raise money for selected charities in 2017 and award trophies in various categories the last week of every month from May through September.”