Last month, the First Annual Cars 4 Kids and Veterans event was held at the Gulf View Square Mall in Port Richey. All proceeds benefitted the youth, children’s ministries, and the Tunnel to Towers Foundation. The fundraiser was scheduled and set up by the trio of TJ Lombardo Jr., Josh Shuck, and Anthony Falco. Lombardo looks to host two such events a year, typically in April and October.
The event hosted a variety of cars ranging from early 1900s “rat rods” to modern vehicles like the Chevrolet Corvette Z06. There were vintage muscle cars, movie-themed cars, and much more. Over 100 businesses also showed up and showed out for the festivities, and all were family-owned. From tumblers to arts and crafts, these small businesses plied their wares inside the mall at this fundraiser.
“It was the biggest event the mall has ever had since its existence,” said Lombardo. “Had over 15,000 people inside the mall. Also, filled up the parking lot next door, which was the old Toys “R” Us and the Burlington Factory. It was like Christmas on Black Friday… It was all about the community coming together.”
As the event was for veterans as well as the youth, honor guards were present to pay tribute to the falling of the Twin Towers 22 years ago. An emotional “tear-jerker” for many, the moment punctuated the day’s festivities. Looking ahead, Lombardo looks to host up to six events a year for teachers, armed and special forces, and K9 units, among others. His next event will be on Nov. 12, where they will be raffling off a brand new 2024 Chevrolet Trax. All proceeds will go to the Marine Corps League Detachment 708 on Sunshine Grove Road. It will be held at Register Chevrolet, 14181 Cortez Blvd in Brooksville.