Clay car enthusiasts encouraged to take a ride with Highway to Help Heroes

By Wesley LeBlanc wesley@opcfla.com
Posted 4/28/21

Clay County car enthusiasts are encouraged to register for the Highway to Help Heroes charity drive is open and there’s no better way to see supercars while helping veterans and others at the same …

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Clay car enthusiasts encouraged to take a ride with Highway to Help Heroes

Posted

Clay County car enthusiasts are encouraged to register for the Highway to Help Heroes charity drive is open and there’s no better way to see supercars while helping veterans and others at the same time.

What began as Accelerate Jacksonville morphed into an event called Skyfall which then turned into the Highway to Help Heroes charity drive and for years, this event has raised more than $200,000 each year to benefit organizations with local Clay County footprints like K9s for Warriors, the Fraternal Order of Police Foundation and the Police Athletic League. This year’s event is on June 5, but registration now is open and will remain open until May 22.

“One hundred percent of the proceeds go directly to charities,” Sissine’s Office Systems enterprise account manager and Highway to Help Heroes co-creator Greg Leb said. “I think one of the biggest differences between this event and most others [like it], is that it’s all paid for by us so 100% of the proceeds go to the charities.”

The event began as a charity drive to support PAL and the FOP. Before K9s for Warriors got involved, Leb said after the success of the event during the years, they wanted to help out veterans and K9s for Warriors was a perfect fit.

“Since inception, the FOP Foundation has been dedicated to honoring and remembering the heroes of our law enforcement, and advocating for the protections of officers and their families,” FOP Foundation immediate past chairman David Stevens said.

The event is a 45-mile drive that starts at the Ring Power Corporation headquarters in St. Augustine. It begins with a breakfast at the site where people participating or people who have donated money to the event can meet the people benefitting, something Leb said is unique.

“You don’t often get to meet the people being helped directly,” he said. “They’ll be at Ring Power checking out the cars and people can talk to them.”

Local companies like Vallencourt Construction in Green Cove Springs helps with the event in Clay County, as it does for several other areas around Northeast Florida and the state. Clay County residents might even recognize a driver or two but being able to see these cars up close and in person requires a ticket that can be purchased at highway2helpheroes.com.

“As one of the largest employers in Clay County, we’re committed to making a positive impact in the communities where we live and work. With more than 420 employees across Northeast Florida, we’re proud to sponsor the Highway to Help Heroes event that honors our nation’s heroes for the work they do to keep our communities safe,” said Daniel Vallencourt, Vice President, Vallencourt Construction. “A first time sponsor this year, we’re excited to bring car enthusiasts across our communities together for a significant cause.”

After the breakfast at Ring Power, police will escort all of the luxury vehicle and supercars participating through Ponte Vedra past K9s for Warriors through Nocatee up A1A before switching over to a police escort by Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, who will then escort the “speed-limited” drive down State Road 202 onto I-95. The drive will end at Cowford Chophouse in Jacksonville where a Studio 54-themed disco party will follow.

“It was a disco that was in the 1970s that was very popular,” Leb said. “We’ve got lookalike entertainers of Cher and Andy Warhol coming in and it’s a very high-end party we throw each year with food, drinks and more. Everyone hangs out, there’s a live band...it’s a really great time. We basically turn Cowford Chophouse into the famed Studio 54.”

Tickets can be purchased at highway2helpheroes.com, and anyone who buys a ticket will be able to attend the Ring Power breakfast and the Studio 54 party. They’ll also be contributing to the total funds to the charity, which reached nearly $250,000 in the past. Leb hopes to raise more this year, although he recognizes that this year is a particularly weird year for fundraising due to COVID-19. Those wishing to sponsor a vehicle or register their own supercar or luxury vehicle to be in the drive can do so at that website and at highway2helpheroes.com/sponsorship.\

Sam Sissine, another co-creator of the event, said people from all over the state drive to Northeast Florida for the event. People can expect to see $2.5 million Panini vehicles, Lamborghinis, Bentley’s, Aston Martins, Rolls Royces, Porsches and more supercars.

“It’s a great way to see a lot of cars you don’t always see on the road,” Sissine said.

Leb and Sissine said they’ve always loved cars and melding their love of cars with their love of charity is why they love doing the Highway to Help Heroes each year.

“It’s about giving back to the community...in a way we know how,” Leb said. “The Sissines are always giving back to the community and this drive is the premiere event we’ve always done. We’re very fortunate to have the support of the companies involved. We’re really happy that this event is something communities from all over support...and we can’t wait for this year’s drive.

“We hope that this year is our biggest yet. These organizations deserve it.”

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