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Car Show Yields Trust-Fund Money

Clifton event's proceeds go to slain police officers' families.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Monday honored former Clifton Mayor Jim Chesley, the Clifton Lions Club and the Custom Cruisers of Northern Virginia for raising money "in response to the tragic events of May 8, 2006."

And in turn, Chesley and the others presented a check for nearly $32,000 to Capt. Susan Culin, commander of the Sully District Police Station, for the trust funds of the families of Det. Vicky Armel and MPO Mike Garbarino, who were killed in May in the line of duty.

The funds came from the seventh annual Clifton Labor Day Car Show which earmarked its proceeds for this cause. And the supervisors presented plaques to the event's three organizers.

"We thank all the wonderful people in Clifton who reached out," said Board Chairman Gerry Connolly (D). "People knew they were contributing to the Armel-Garbarino trust funds, so the event had its biggest turnout ever."

Both Culin and Deputy Chief of Police Suzanne Devlin were present for the ceremony, and Supervisor Elaine McConnell (R-Springfield) read the words on the plaque out loud. She also joked to Connolly that, at the next Clifton Car Show, "There'll be a motorcycle with a sidecar for you and me to ride in."

In addition, Supervisor Michael R. Frey (R-Sully), praised Culin's performance after the tragedy. "She's been solid throughout," he said. "And I want to publicly thank her for all she did to bring the community together."

Accepting the plaques were Chesley; Kerry Sponseller, Custom Cruisers president; Dick Moore, Clifton Lions Club president; and Harry Parker, district governor of Lions Clubs International, District 24A (Northern Virginia).

"The common thread is a passion for vehicles and a passion for service," said Chesley. "The 2005 car show had 240 show vehicles and raised $18,500 total — $15,000 for [Hurricane] Katrina victims, via the Red Cross and Salvation Army, and $3,500 for other local charities."

THE 2006 SHOW featured 460 show vehicles and enabled Parker on Monday to present Culin with a check for $31,934. Then Chesley had 18 Custom Cruisers members in the audience stand up as he told the supervisors, "These are the folks who got it done, and I thank them for their support."

The 35-member club was established in 1986. Regarding its contribution to the trust funds, Sponseller said, "We did what I think everybody should do. An event like that had to bring the community together and we did what we thought was right. I was really proud of the contribution by the members of the club, and Jim was awesome."

Added Chesley's wife Jennifer: "Jim and I have a lot of appreciation and respect for our police officers, so this cause was near and dear to our hearts."

As for the Lions Club, Parker said he believes it's "one of the most underpublicized service organizations in the world," so he was pleased with the recognition from the supervisors. "This is just one example of its service in the community," he said.

Furthermore, said Parker, "I am extremely proud of the Clifton Lions Club. They truly serve — which is the motto of Lions Clubs International. They are, indeed, a role model for all of the other clubs."

The inscription on each plaque reads: "For diligent, heartfelt and selfless dedication as the organizer of the 7th annual Clifton Labor Day Car Show to benefit the Armel and Garbarino Family Trust Funds in response to the tragic events of May 8, 2006."

Culin considered the check "another example of the tremendous support we've received from the community. I attended the event, and it was very well-run. Obviously, a lot of time and effort were put into making it a huge success, and we are extremely grateful they chose Mike and Vicky's funds to support."

The Custom Cruisers meet once a month in Manassas and have members from Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties. For more information, see customcruisersnova.org.