CobberThon hosts first-ever campus car meet

On Sunday, March 26, students and community members alike gathered in the Sanford overflow parking lot for the first campus-run car meet in Concordia’s history. 

Exhaust fumes filled the air as cars of all makes and models idled in the lot, mirrored by the frozen breath of the participants. The low growl of engines was a constant presence between  11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

“It’s a pretty good turnout, especially for the weather,” said Emma Kepler, an organizer for CobberThon as she hunched her shoulders in the 20-degree weather. 

The idea for the event came solely from Andres Nunez, a Cobber and car enthusiast who worked in conjunction with several local organizations to get the project off the ground.  

Over 300 cars were showcased. | Paul Sternhagen

“Cars have always been my thing, so I really wanted to do this not just as a fundraiser but as something for the community,” said Nunez. “There’s a lot of things that happen on campus that are for students, but there’s no real way to connect the students to the actual community that’s outside Concordia College.” 

Nunez sought to fix this issue by collaborating with Fargo Cars and Coffee, a local Facebook group dedicated to bringing together car enthusiasts to buy and sell vehicles. In total, the event brought in approximately 300 cars from students and community members alike. 

“The Cars and Coffee group already holds car meets every year, so our goal was to make this their first meet of the year,” said Elijah Grove, executive director of CobberThon. 

CobberThon was another key contributor to the event. A small table stood near the entrance of the Sanford clinic, with treats for participants as well as a collection jar for donations. Next to the jar sat a sign of stretch goals for what the money would eventually be used for. 

“One hundred percent of our funds that we raise go directly to the Sanford Children’s Hospital, so then everything — from the nurses getting paid, to hiring a music therapist, to incubators — whatever they can buy with our funds they’re going to buy with our funds,” said Grove. “Some of this equipment is just ridiculously expensive, so if they can get it through donations their job is so much easier.” 

Attendees stand around a variety of cars. | Paul Sternhagen

This marks the 12th year that CobberThon has been raising money for the Sanford Children’s Hospital, which is a member of the greater Children’s Miracle Network. The Miracle Network is a nonprofit organization that seeks to fill the funding gaps within the healthcare costs of families with afflicted children. 

“We’re all about making the participant the hero. CobberThon is all about getting their money to the Sanford children, so we don’t want to ever feel like they’re just donating to us,” said Grove. 

Early in the process of planning the car meet fundraiser, Nunez recollects washing his car when an excited child ran up to him and asked to sit in the front seat. Nunez obliged, and the child asked if he could rev the engine. Again Nunez said yes, and that young boy’s smile as the engine roared was one of the deciding factors that pushed Nunez towards organizing the meet in the first place. 

“One thing that made me push this entire fundraiser was these kids at the Children’s Hospital. Because of COVID, they can’t really interact now outside of the hospital because they’re at higher risk than most of us,” said Nunez. “Originally, I wanted some of them to show up for it — obviously that’s not something that can happen now because of COVID, but hopefully they can still benefit from it.” 

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