By Ron Brohm
When it comes to showing cars, the Urbana Cruisers know a thing or two about that. And when it comes to giving back to the community, they really know how to shine there also.
Operated by Tim Staley and Sharon Leaman, the Urbana Cruisers have been doing what they do for more than three years now.
“It all started back in 2017 when Sharon and I were in a not at fault motorcycle wreck. We were both seriously injured and had to be off work for an extended period of time,” said Staley.
“During that time friends and family stepped in to help us out, bringing us food and helping us get through and recover. With both of us out of work they even put on a benefit to help with expenses. Sharon was not used to such generosity and was inspired to do something to pay this generosity forward. That’s when we came up with the idea of a car club that would contribute to the community and help folks out in need. All of our friends are car people and they were all in, so it really took off and the rest is history,” added Staley.
Putting it very simply, the Urbana Cruisers like to put on car shows and cruise-ins and they also like to raise money to give back to their community. They like to call these events “Benefit Car Shows.” Their members also volunteer for non-club, non-car local community events. Oh, and yes, they also love cars too. There club motto is “Life is too short to drive boring cars.”
They like to think of themselves as just family and friends rolling out and going to car shows, making memories and having fun and great times while helping folks in the community. This group really “gets around” and “gets things done in the community.”
“I really enjoy being a part of the Urbana Cruisers. I joined the group around two years ago. We are very active in the community. We like to do benefit shows for local causes,” said club member Edward Hadden of Mechanicsburg.
“In three recent benefit car shows we raised funds to purchase a mobility vehicle for a very sick little girl in St. Paris, funds to help a cancer survivor in Urbana and over $10,000 for survivors of the Springfield school bus accident,” Hadden said. “We have raised over $30,000 for local causes.”
In October at their “Truck or Treat” Show the club also raised and awarded $1,650 to local car show YouTuber, Donald Sparks, aka, GO4RIDER to help him with his gas expenses as he travels around to film local car shows. Sparks donates his time to cover all the local area car shows on his wheelchair scooter for his YouTube channel, which he created so veterans served by the VA and home-bound veterans can watch and experience local car shows. He also cares for his elderly parents.
“The Urbana Cruisers think a lot of Don. He always supports us at our benefits and fundraisers. Anytime he can be there he will, always a pleasure to have around,” said Staley.
“He is a very important asset to the car community, for what he does. At our ‘Trunk or Treat Spooktacular’ we raised money with our raffle and auction items and surprised GO4 (Don Sparks) and gave it to him from the Urbana Cruisers for appreciation for supporting our events, and doing what he does for the car community and veterans,” said Staley.
“I had absolutely no idea that it was for me,” said Sparks, aka YouTuber GO4RIDER. “This donation will really help me out a lot for my gas fund to get around to film the shows. I just had no idea and it hit me so hard I cried for two hours. I had to go sit in the car and had to have someone else hold my camera. I just had no idea! They are just such big-hearted people.”
“We want to thank everyone who came out on a rainy dreary day to support our Trunk or Treat for the kiddos, and to support the raffle of the LOW Rider wagon and auction items,” Staley said. “Special thanks to everyone who helped make this Spooktacular event a success, including Coop for the DJ service, Graham girls bowling for the food, and John and his wife Bobby Joe for letting us use Southwest Bowling Center for our events.
“The Urbana Cruisers appreciates all the love and support from our community and our car family. We couldn’t do it without each and every one of you,” said Staley.
What’s next for the Urbana Cruisers?
“We always do a lot of research on recipients and meet them and get to know them before we do a benefit or fundraiser, and we are always looking to help members of the community in real need if we can. We always give 100 percent of the funds raised directly to the recipient, no funds are used for club expenses. We always try to leave a positive impression on our community,” Staley said.
“We not only do benefits but we like to volunteer our time and efforts for local events, such as Cruise-in for a Cause and we do crowd control for the Urbana Holiday Horse Parade.”
One of the ways the Urbana Cruisers raises money is through raffles and auctions. One unique item that has been very popular is a really cool “Low Ride Wagon” Staley builds and donates to the club to raffle or auction off.
“We just recently raffled off a ’29 Ford Sedan Chop Top” low ride wagon I built. The folks seem to love them and it helps raise funds for our benefit car shows and cruise-ins,” Staley said.
This truly is a car club that shows it cares and really does shine big in the community.
Ron Brohm is an Outdoors, Tourism, Parks, Automotive & Aviation Journalist/Author and writes for the Urbana Daily Citizen and other AIM Media Midwest newspapers and several national magazines. He is also a Certified Parks & Recreation Professional (CPRP), serves as the Park Commissioner for the City of Riverside & is the Executive Director of the Great Ohio Outback Wilderness Regional Authority.