People & Places

Cool cars, chance to fund epilepsy research on tap for Cruise-In

Third annual Leon Evans Cruise-In is Saturday in Fairfax

About 300 cars were showcased at the 2015 Leon Evans Cruise-In at the Fairfax Regional Sports and Park Complex in Fairfax, which raised $1,458 for the Epilepsy Research Foundation at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. (Photo courtesy of Mary Pat Colburn/MP Colburn Photography)
About 300 cars were showcased at the 2015 Leon Evans Cruise-In at the Fairfax Regional Sports and Park Complex in Fairfax, which raised $1,458 for the Epilepsy Research Foundation at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. (Photo courtesy of Mary Pat Colburn/MP Colburn Photography)
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FAIRFAX — A Fairfax family hopes their patriarch’s passion for cool cars helps fund research for a condition that affects millions across the country.

The third annual Leon Evans Cruise-In takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Fairfax Regional Sports and Park Complex, 625 Linn St. in Fairfax. The event — which organizers expect to attract hundreds of racing and special-interest vehicles — serves as a fundraiser for the University of Iowa Foundation’s Epilepsy Research Fund, which helps fund projects at the UI Hospitals and Clinics.

Admission to the event is free. Because it is a cruise-in, there is no judging of the vehicles on display. That also means there is no entry free for vehicle owners.

Last year’s show drew about 300 cars to the complex, and organizer expect even more this year, said Kathy Houser, an organizer of the event and daughter of Leon Evans.

Money is raised through the sale of $1 and $5 raffle tickets for a chance to win a variety of prizes, including Hawkeyes and NASCAR memorabilia, car cleaning kits and a television. A 50/50 drawing also is planned.

“We had the means of a huge gathering and we thought that someone should benefit,” Houser said. “We didn’t want to make money off it. The most logical place to give is to the same place that gave a lot to us.”

Houser is referring to the neurology department at the UI Hospitals and Clinics, where her son Jake Houser was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2003 at age 9. Jake Houser, now 22, has been seizure free since his brain surgery in April 2013.

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Jake Houser’s epilepsy symptoms stemmed from the occipital lobe of his brain, which serves as the visual processing center. His seizures caused him to have visual disturbances. Kathy Houser said diagnosing the problem was difficult, but after receiving the needed care from UIHC, she is happy to give back.

“I think we had a lot of healing to do after what happened to us, and this has kind of helped us find the positive in the negative,” she said.

Though only three years old, the Cruise-In traces its roots to 2009 when Leon Evans began an annual gathering of friends he had made over the years in the racing community. Evans, who raced in Cedar Falls and Cedar Rapids beginning at age 18, was a bit of a legend among the racing community throughout Iowa, Kathy Houser said.

After Evans died in 2014, his daughter said the family had no intention of continuing the annual gathering.

“We were all bummed out,” she said. “That was something dad did. We weren’t going to keep it going.”

However, friends of Evans convinced the family to carry on and that year the Cruise-In was born at the Fairfax complex.

“It was tough that first year to pull all that stuff together, since we were still grieving,” Kathy Houser said. “It actually felt good. It was a way of remembering him, but not letting go of everything he did.”

Houser said she and other event organizers are unsure how the event may look in future years.

“I don’t know where it’ll end up,” she said. “It just seems to be the right thing to do right now.”

If you go

— What: Third annual Leon Evans Cruise-In

— When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

— Where: Fairfax Regional Sports and Park Complex, 625 Linn St., Fairfax

— Why: Fundraiser for the Epilepsy Research Fund at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics

— Cost: Admission is free; a variety of raffles and drawings are being held during the event.

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— Donate: To donate to the University of Iowa Foundation’s Epilepsy Research Fund, visit donate.givetoiowa.org.

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