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Monday, February 06, 2023

Local business owners will host a car show Saturday to benefit veterans.

The fourth annual Hot Rodding for Heroes Classic Auto Tour and Show will raise money for the Veteran’s Bridge Scholarship, which is available to veterans enrolled at Santa Fe College. The free show is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Haile Plantation Village Center, and there will be about 250 classic and modern cars. The event’s goal is to raise about $15,000 through donations and raffles, said John Hoehn, one of the founders.

A group of five small-business owners came up with the idea because they wanted to raise money for a cause that paired well with a love of vintage cars, Hoehn said. 

The fund provides scholarships to former service members so they can begin classes at Santa Fe right when the semester starts — regardless of whether their GI Bill money has come in yet.

Hoehn, the owner of Affordable Chiropractic, said many veterans’ charities are national, and they wanted the funds to stay in the community.

As a lifelong Gainesville resident, he wanted the money to help local veterans at a local school. All money raised through donations will go toward the scholarship fund, he said.

“It’s been wonderful watching this grow,” he said, “and I hope it’ll continue to grow.”

Hoehn said the transition to civilian life can be financially and mentally difficult for veterans. He said he hopes the event helps ease both worries.

Sandra Torres-Pintos, the coordinator of veterans affairs at Santa Fe, said the loss of income from the military is often a problem for returning service members. GI benefits can take up to 40 days for approval and even longer to be dispersed, she said. This could conflict with school payments, but scholarships help to close the gap.

She said some returning service members are focused on school, but they may not know how to ask for help. That’s where her office comes in to help them apply for financial aid and find housing.

Many veterans have been out of the classroom for a while, which can make the transition harder, she said. The smaller class sizes at Santa Fe offer more individualized attention. Many veterans hope to transfer to UF, and the scholarship helps guarantee financial security. 

Hoehn agreed, adding that it’s important to honor veterans while still appreciating a classic Camaro.

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[A version of this story ran on page 20 on 4/22/2015]

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