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Rogers: 'I Want to Thank Everyone for All They've Done'

A classic car show raised funds for A.J. Rogers, a 19-year-old firefighter battling Leukemia.

Ray Grich of Shelton bought his black '69 Chevy Chevelle 10 years ago. He's a member of the Round Town Cruisers in his hometown and puts his classic car on display in shows on Bridgeport Avenue. On Saturday, Grich's Chevy won The A.J. Rogers Award for Top Car in Show during a charity event at Fireman's Field, at the corner of routes 110 and 111 in Monroe.

The car show raised funds for A.J. Rogers, 19, of Monroe, a Stevenson Volunteer firefighter diagnosed with Leukemia last January. It was co-sponsored by the Monroe Street Rodders and the Monroe Volunteer Fire Department.

"I came up with the idea," said Al Del Favero, president of the Monroe Street Rodders. "The kid and his family are devastated with bills, so I thought a car show would be the best fundraiser."

When he approached members of the Monroe Volunteer Fire Department about having a show on their property, Del Favero said they were eager to help out a fellow firefighter.

Around 200 classic cars and trucks registered for the show at $10 a piece, firefighters collected donations in a boot and a 50/50 raffle was held with all proceeds benefiting the Rogers family.

Phil Flynn, who is a teacher in Stratford, played doo-wop music from his record collection and Lake Zoar Drive-In served burgers, hot dogs and other fare out of a truck.

Aside from the Fords, Chevys and other models, a collection of town fire trucks were polished up for the show.

Rogers had undergone intense treatment early on in his battle with Leukemia, but said he now goes to the hospital once a month for "maintenance" treatment.

"I'm feeling good," he said.

When asked how he felt about all of the people organizing a charity event in his honor, Rogers said, "I'm shocked. I'm in awe. I really don't have the words to describe it. I want to thank everyone for all they've done."

Rogers, who wants to be a career firefighter, said he may be ready to enroll for classes at Naugatuck Community College in the fall.

Rogers friends nicknamed him Cooter after the mechanic on "The Dukes of Hazzard" TV show, because of his love of automobiles. In fact, he and his father, Fran, rebuilt a '62 Chevy K10 that was among the collection of vehicles featured on Saturday.

Organizers of the event presented a trophy to Rogers and allowed him to pick the winner of Top Car in Show. 

Rogers and Monroe Fire Chief Bill Davin presented the tall trophy for Best Car in Show to Grich for his Chevelle. The trophy was sponsored by the Monroe Street Rodders, Black Road Car Club and Stevens Ford in Milford.

Trophy sponsors also included Carpenters Local 210 of Monroe, Champion Awards of Milford, Gene's Automotive in Trumbull, Jensen Tires & Automotive LLC in Trumbull, and MacKenzie's Pharmacy in Trumbull.

The show ran from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Afterward, many of the cars went to Bill's Drive-In down the street for a second show.

Every Saturday night, from 5 to 9, the eatery becomes Bill's "Doo-Wop" Drive-In when the Monroe Street Rodders hosts Cruiser Night Saturdays, a car show awarding trophies for several categories. Phil Flynn provides the music.

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