Ed’s Open Header Cruise returns Thursday following COVID hiatus

DOWAGIAC — A caravan of cars will be cruising for a cause on Thursday.

After a one-year COVID-induced hiatus, Dowagiac’s fifth annual Ed’s Open Header “Cruise for a Cause” will take place at 5:30 p.m. Thursday to benefit the Cass County Cancer Service. According to event organizer Curt Rohdy of John and Curt’s Brake and Alignment, 107 cars in the procession raised more than $7,000 for Cass County Cancer Service in 2019.

To date, more than $20,000 in total funds have been raised for CCCS via Ed’s Open Header.

“This is a good time for everybody,” Rohdy said. “It’s well received with both car owners and community members. It brings in a lot of people. Everyone has a good time and I’m glad to do it.”

Rohdy was forced to cancel last year’s event due to the pandemic but is glad to be back this year.

“It was pretty bad,” He said. “With the pandemic there was not a lot we could do to raise money. Hopefully now we can help them with more funds.”

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 from Cassopolis at 6:40 to lead the cruise into downtown Dowagiac, where participants can gather at the James E. Snow Professional Building for the concert and a cook-out. The open header cruise will also coincide with the Dowagiac Summer Concert Series, with the band Rebel Pride performing at 7:30 p.m. on the grounds of the building.

The Dowagiac Fire Department will be grilling hot dogs and bratwurst for a donation.

The Dowagiac Police Department, Cass County Sheriff’s Department and the Village of Cassopolis Police Department will support the cruise, according to Rohdy. 

True’s Towing and Recovery will supply three wreckers and help block traffic. In addition, if someone’s car breaks down, True’s Towing and Recovery will tow the vehicle home for the owner at no charge.

“True’s has been a big help,” Rohdy said. “They’re generous with time. We’re glad to have them supporting us.”

The entry fee for motor vehicles looking to participate in the procession is $20. Rohdy said that all makes and models of motor vehicles are welcome to sign up for the event.

The annual event is named in honor of Ed Kazlauskas, who along with Rodhy helped organize the Dowagiac Car Show downtown for 16 years. When the duo passed the organizing to someone else, they discussed planning an open header cruise to raise money for a local charity. 

Before plans ever materialized, Kazlauskas was diagnosed with cancer and ended up passing away at the age of 60, on Feb. 13, 2016.

Rodhy has since kept their dream alive and plans the open header cruise in Kazlauskas’ honor.

According to Rohdy, CCCS was the perfect organization to partner with because 100 percent of the funds they receive from donors goes directly to the community.

“It’s a good organization,” Rohdy said. “There aren’t too many orgs that take 100 percent of proceeds. They do it out of the goodness of their hearts. It doesn’t cost us a dime to put this on. 100 percent of the money they get goes to patients’ needs.”

With COVID restrictions removed, Rohdy aims to eclipse the 107 cars that participated two years ago and raise more money for CCCS.

“We’re hoping to see more cars come out so that we can generate more income for CCCS,” he said. “People are interested in getting out. If it helps put a smile on somebody’s face dealing with cancer, it’s more than worth it.”

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