DOWAGIAC – A parade of cars will descend on downtown Dowagiac for a good cause next week.
Dowagiac’s fifth annual Ed’s Open Header “Cruise for a Cause” will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday to benefit the Cass County Cancer Service.
Participants in the Open Header Cruise will meet at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Thomas J. Mosier Waterwell Drilling, 21867 M-60 East, Cassopolis. A police escort will leave Cassopolis at 6:40 a.m. to take the cruise to downtown Dowagiac, where participants can gather at the Dowagiac District Library Events Pavilion for a barbecue. The entrance fee for motor vehicles wishing to participate in the procession is $20.
The open header cruise will also coincide with Dowagiac’s Summer Concert Series, with the band Taste of Texas performing at 7:30 p.m. on the building’s grounds. The Dowagiac Fire Department will be grilling hot dogs and sausages for a donation.
Last year, a record 160 vehicles – up from 107 in 2019 – participated in the event, with more than $7,000 raised in total between the procession and a raffle organized by Honor Credit Union.
To date, over $27,000 in total funds have been raised for CCCS through Ed’s Open Header. According to HCU Assistant Vice President Janie Reifenberg, CCCS was the perfect organization to partner with because 100% of the funds they receive from donors go directly to the community.
“On behalf of Honor Credit Union and the incredible team at Dowagiac Member Center, led by Linda Tyria and Norma Greenman, are doing a phenomenal job raising funds and awareness for Cass County Cancer Services,” a- she declared. “We love supporting our community and especially since all the money raised for the cruise stays here in Cass County. (CCCS Director) Maxine Ownby does a wonderful job of making sure the money goes where it’s needed , we are very fortunate that she and the team at Cass County Cancer Services work so hard for all of us The funds we raise through community donations, Honor will match and present a check on the night of the cruise to Maxine.
The annual event is named for Ed Kazlauskas, who along with Rodhy helped organize the Dowagiac Car Show downtown for 16 years. When the duo handed over the organization to someone else, they discussed planning an open-headed cruise to raise money for a local charity.
Before the plans materialized, Kazlauskas was diagnosed with cancer and died at the age of 60 on February 13, 2016.
Rodhy has since kept his dream alive and is planning the Open-Headed Cruise in Kazlauskas’ honor. Reifenberg, Kazlauskas’ sister, appreciates what Rohdy and others have done to celebrate her brother’s legacy.
“I look forward to the Ed’s Open header cruise every year for many reasons, both personal and professional,” she said. “It’s the time of year when the community comes together for all the hard work and dedication that Curt Rhody and others do to honor my brother Ed Kazlauskas. Eddie’s love for Mopar cars and his dedication to the Dowagiac community and as a longtime business owner, for all the years he’s put into the Rod & Roll show for many years, come back to honor him, our eyes fill with tears and our hearts burst with love when our family sees the endless number of cars in the cruise.I know Eddie will look down with love and gratitude in his heart, for this sixth cruise.