Mona Shield Payne
Published Saturday, March 28, 2009 | 4:09 p.m.
Updated Sunday, March 29, 2009 | 8:40 a.m.
Beyond the Sun
Enthusiastic Mini Cooper owners harnessed their passion for a good cause Saturday, gathering in Henderson for a car show to raise funds for the SAFE House Domestic Violence Shelter.
About 500 Mini owners are in Las Vegas for their annual Mini Vacation in Vegas convention, and owners of 36 of the most tricked-out cars made the trip to Henderson to compete in the inaugural show, which raised more than $5,000 for the shelter.
The Sin City Mini Club, which organized the event, donated $2,000, as did the Desert Mini of Las Vegas dealership. Entry fees and donations from car owners added another $1,000, and donations collected during the show were expected to raise a few hundred dollars more.
"I think that our first year has been a huge success," SAFE House Executive Director Julie Proctor said. "I think we're going to get bigger every year we do it. With the economy being the way it is, it's just phenomenal to see this kind of community support."
For the Mini owners who participated in the show or passed by for a peek, raising funds for a good cause was just the cherry on top of an already sweet show.
Sin City Mini Club President Agro Ross, who brought his bright orange 1978 Mini, said the endless possibilities for customizing and personalizing a Mini is what draws people to them.
"I like being different," he said. "I like orange and I like standing out."
Among the 500 Minis in town for the convention no two are identical, Ross said.
But the cream of the crop was at the show. Among the 36 entries, there were Minis with hydraulics, Minis with suicide doors, lowrider Minis and thousands of dollars in custom paint jobs and body kits.
But the fun doesn't stop on the outside, said California resident Don Burnside, who has put 207,000 miles on his Mini since he bought it new in 2003.
"It's a very unique automobile," Burnside said. "It's unlike anything else you see on the road, and that's just looking at it. Then you drive it — there's really no way to describe how awesome it is to drive a Mini."
Henderson Mayor James B. Gibson, who was invited to help present the checks, recognized the car owners for their dedication to their cars and to the community.
"The mission of SAFE House is something that can't be duplicated by government," Gibson said. "We really appreciate the great load that you are lifting from all of us."
Proctor said the money is a great help at a time when it is sorely needed, but that the car show served another, equally important purpose.
"Not only are we raising some money, but we're raising awareness of the issue of domestic violence and the services we provide," she said.