Keels and Wheels Classic Car and Boat Show

Me with one of the great cars at Keels & Wheels.

Me with one of the great cars at Keels & Wheels.

Charitable giving in Houston usually comes with a lot of zeros attached.
But for the organizers of Keels and Wheels Concours d’Elegance, it’s not about the size of the check. It’s about the impact they have on Boys and Girls Harbor, a Houston-based nonprofit that helps kids and their families in need.
Keels and Wheels, a classic car show at the Lakewood Yacht Club in nearby Seabrook, Texas, will be held May 3-4 and will feature CEOs and their cool rides.
“Their budget is small enough that we make a big impact,” Bob Fuller, a retired executive recruiter who founded Keels and Wheels 19 years ago, told Houston Business Journal.
That first year, the event, modeled on the famed Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance for classic cars and the Lake Tahoe show for wooden boats, lost $1,200.
Mark Yost, celebrity judge, presenting the Best in Show to the Keels winner, the owner of a vintage 1950s Chris Craft.

Mark Yost, celebrity judge, presenting the Best in Show to the Keels winner, the owner of a vintage 1950s Chris Craft.

“We still passed the hat and gave the Leukemia Society a check for $2,000,” Fuller said.
For several years, the event partnered with other charitable organizations around Houston, but what it was able to give paled in comparison to the organization’s overall budget.
“Some groups didn’t even come to the event,” Fuller said. “They just said, ‘Mail in your check.'”
Fast-forward nearly 20 years and Keels and Wheels has given “just shy of $1.3 million to Boys and Girls Harbor,” Fuller said.
“We meet these kids, form long-term relationships with them, and clearly have a big impact on their lives,” he said. “It’s very gratifying.”
Over the years, Keels and Wheels has grown from a local event to one of national renown. Houston’s veritable who’s who of car collectors will be joined this year by famed collector Wayne Carini, who pals around with David Letterman, tennis great Ivan Lendl, and the Dupont family. Carini will film an episode of his Discovery Channel series, “Chasing Classic Cars” at Keels and Wheels.
The chief judge will be Randy Ema, who hangs around with another famous late-night talk show host cum classic car collector, Jay Leno. And Keels and Wheels has become such a must-stop on the classic car scene that Ford Motor Co.’s (NYSE: F) Lincoln division will hold the national unveiling of its 2015 Navigator at this year’s event. Also expected to attend is Margaret Dunning, a longtime Keels and Wheels participant who has been profiled in the New York Times, along with her 1930 Packard.
George Yost, with one of his favorite pastarockets.

George Yost, with one of his favorite pastarockets.

Among the Houston boldface names that’ll be on hand: Billy Cain, president of Fishbone Safety Solutions and his 1966 Shelby 350GT; Jon Hodges, president and CEO of Evergreen Environmental Services, who’s bringing his 1962 Chevy Impala convertible; John Burkland, president of Technical Automation Services Co., who owns a 1923 Lincoln; Roy Shaw, chairman and CEO of Shaw Systems Inc., bringing his 1966 Cadillac DeVille convertible; and James Bartlett, director of executive communications at ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP), the proud owner of a 1932 Dusenberg convertible.

About Mark Yost
Mark Yost is the author of the Rick Crane Noir series, published by Stay Thirsty Press. Rick Crane is the classic, anti-hero private eye in the spirit of Sam Spade and Jim Rockford. He works in the unmistakably noirish underworld of Upstate New York, running errands and fixing problems for Jimmy Ricchiati Sr., one of Upstate New York's most notorious crime bosses. But readers quickly learn that deep down, Rick Crane is one of the good guys. "Cooper's Daughter," the first book in the widely acclaimed series, is a fast-moving tale in which a heartbroken father comes to Rick and asks him to find out what really happened to his daughter, who was murdered and the details buried in the Unsolved Crimes File of the local police department. The second book in the series is "Jimmy's Nephew," which begins with the death of Joey "Boom Boom" Bonadeo, an up-and-coming boxer and the nephew of Rick's underworld boss. What starts out as a routine investigation turns into a case that will test Rick's faith -- in the Catholic Church and his fellow man. Book No. 3 in the series, "Mary's Fate" is due out in August 2015. Mark Yost also writes for The Wall Street Journal Arts in Review page, as well as the Book Review section. He is a member of the Mystery Writers of America -- Midwest Chapter, International Thriller Writers, and a number of other author groups. He is also a member of the Amazon Author's Program. Mark lives in the Loyola neighborhood of Chicago, but he and his son, George, call the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn "home."

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