Cameron Williams founded the Drive to Remember Car Show in Longview almost three years ago as a way to help deal with his grief from watching his father succumb to Alzheimer’s disease.
“When I was younger, he took me to numerous car shows, so it was kind of a thing to do,” Williams said of his father, David Williams, who passed away in 2016 after the first Drive to Remember event was held at Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Center.
“So I started this just as a way to engage with the public, bring awareness and support the cause as a healthy way to deal with the circumstances,” Williams said, “and now it’s kind of flourishing into a bigger turnout than we planned.”
In 2018, the third annual show had raked in more than $4,000 an hour after Maude Cobb’s doors opened Sunday.
All proceeds from the show benefited East Texas Alzheimer’s Alliance, which provides respite care programs for families of people with Alzheimer’s and dementia-related diseases.
“Dealing with it firsthand on a daily basis was a really big issue for my mother and I because of the turmoil it will put you through,” Williams said about his experience with his father, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2011.
“He stayed home with us until 2014, and at that point we had to put him in specialized care,” Williams said, “so yeah, there was a lot of negative emotion from that, and it caused a lot of depression and was very difficult to deal with, so this was kind of ... an outing for me to try to turn negative emotion into something positive and deal with it in a different way.”
More than 90 vehicles — the maximum number to fit inside Maude Cobb — shined for hundreds of enthusiasts. Cars ranged from classics to foreign and domestic luxury vehicles and even his-and-hers Bentleys. Also on the Maude Cobb floor was the 600-horsepower Bentley Bentayga, considered the world’s most powerful SUV, Williams said.
Among the attendees at the 2018 event was Sara Nice, who came with her husband and two young children. The parents moved to Longview from Scottsdale, Arizona, about eight years ago but struggled to make friends or find things to do here until their oldest child, 6-year-old-son Dylan Nice, developed a love of cars.
They’ve since become avid car show enthusiasts, but the Drive to Remember show’s fundraising focus has a special place with Sara Nice, whose grandmother died May 12 about a year after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
“You could tell in her face that she would recognize you and recognize the kids, but her big frustration was that her brain wouldn’t let her form words,” Nice said of her grandmother, Marie McDonald.
As Dylan and his sister, 5-year-old Claire Nice, peered through windows and hopped among the cars, their parents seemed just as excited at times.
“I love cars like this,” dad Gary Nice said as he read the dials on a Kermit-green Ferrari steering wheel. “I love to dream someday of owning one, and you get to look at them a lot closer.”
Added Sara Nice, “We’re very happy that it’s here, and it’s even better that it’s a fundraiser, and I think anytime enthusiasts of any type can come together for a good cause, it’s awesome because it’s kind of what we do.”
That was precisely the reaction Williams wanted from car lovers who helped him help other families battle a disease that took so much from his own family.
“Overall, people seem to respond well because we try to get every different type of vehicle — everything from classics to high-end, brand-new exotics, so we’re trying to incorporate everything so that it pleases everyone and gets more people’s attention.”
Excerpt from an article written by Jimmy Daniell Isaac who covers the city of Longiew and Gregg County. Follow him on Twitter: @jimmyisaaclives.