PHOTO STORY: Ed’s Open Header Cruise returns to downtown Dowagiac

Published 3:15 pm Friday, July 29, 2022

DOWAGIAC — The revving of engines and the screeching of tires could be heard throughout downtown as the sixth annual Ed’s Open Header “Cruise for a Cause” rolled into town.

Approximately 150 vehicles participated in this year’s event, with more than $7,500 raised in total between the procession and a raffle facilitated by Honor Credit Union. 

To date, more than $34,000 in Open Header funds have been raised for Cass County Cancer Service, a volunteer-run organization that provides support for those undergoing cancer treatment, from helping patients pay for gas to get them to and from treatments to rides to doctor’s appointments and more.

“On behalf of the Cass County Cancer Service, I wanted to thank everybody that organized it and donated,” said Ray Klomes of the Cass County Cancer Service. “The money is a blessing because we have probably two or three-hundred people and every dime we raise goes to the people. We have like 16 volunteers and none of them take a dime. Everything that you donate goes to the people. Thank you so much.”

The annual event is named in honor of Ed Kazlauskas, who along with event organizer Curt 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 came together, Kazlauskas was diagnosed with cancer and passed away at the age of 60, on Feb. 13, 2016.

HCU Assistant Vice President Janie Reifenberg was Kazlauskas’ sister and thanked HCU and the community for supporting the event. She said HCU raised $3,000 of the $7,500 total.

“Hats off to Honor Credit Union,” said HCU Assistant Vice President Janie Reifenberg. “Thanks for always supporting our communities. This one is near and dear to the community and the Kazlauskas family.”

Open Header participants gathered at Thomas J. Mosier Waterwell Drilling, 21867 M-60 E., Cassopolis before the police escort led the cruise into downtown Dowagiac, where participants and community members gathered along Main Street.

The event coincided with the Dowagiac Summer Concert Series, which this week featured Touch of Texas performing under the Dowagiac District Library Pavilion. The Dowagiac Fire Department also grilled hot dogs and bratwurst for a donation.

Rohdy thanked the Dowagiac Police Department, Cass County Sheriff’s Department and the Village of Cassopolis Police Department and True’s Towing and Recovery for supporting the event.

“Thank you very much for the turnout,” Rohdy said. “And again, drivers, thank you for bringing your cars and donating the money to run in the cruise. Hopefully, we’ll see everyone next year.”