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In Holbrook, a dazzling display of classic cars for a worthy cause

Tom DeMaria of Oceanside cleans the engine on

Tom DeMaria of Oceanside cleans the engine on his1969 AMC Hurst SC/Rambler at the seventh annual Kick Stands Up Motorcycle Poker Show in Holbrook on Sunday. Credit: James Carbone

Among the eye-catching muscle cars at a fundraiser for homeless veterans on Sunday in Holbrook, Tom DeMaria’s 1969 AMC Hurst SC/Rambler stood out. The sedan's red-white-and-blue factory paint job glistened in the sun.  An attached sign noted its original parts and 20,000 miles logged over five decades.

“It just turned 50 years old,” said DeMaria, 77, of Oceanside, who, along with his younger brother Phil, is the original owner, having purchased the coupe in 1969 for $3,300. “Once in a while I ride it around the block. I think I put six miles on it this year.”

DeMaria's babied SC/Rambler — one of just 1,512 made by the long-shuttered American Motors Corp. — was among the many classic cars and motorcycles on display at  Sunday's seventh annual Kick Stands Up Motorcycle Poker Run and Car Show for Homeless Veteransk.

The event was expected to raise between $15,000 and $20,000, organizers said, with proceeds going to Suffolk County United Veterans, a Ronkonkoma-based nonprofit.

“It helps to fill a lot of the holes of government funding,” said Michael Stoltz, the organization's chief executive officer, adding that the agency aids up to 800 veterans a year.

 In addition to the classic car show and vendors,the day featured the “poker run,” motorcyclists embarking on a 50-mile ride, collecting playing cards at various stops in hopes of gaining a winning hand.

Many participants were veterans looking to pay forward the goodwill they had received from Stoltz's organization.

Gregory Dutcher, 63, who served in the Army from 1974 to 1993, said he resigned from his job in 2005  with complications from a heart condition and faced financial hardship. He turned to the Suffolk veterans group, which placed him in its Yaphank housing facility. Dutcher, who then spent years volunteering for the organization, said he founded his own exterminating company later.

“I lost everything. I had nowhere to go,” said Dutcher, who showed off his black 2012 Chevrolet Camaro in the car show. “I just went there and asked them if they could help.”

The veterans organization also administers the Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans Peer Support Project, which provides group and one-on-one counseling to veterans. Frank DiDomenico, 46, of Patchogue, who served in the Air Force as well as the Army and Air national guards from 1992 until 2016, sought help from the initiative and then became a counselor.

“We definitely feel more comfortable being around other veterans,” he said. “My job is to be a listening ear and at the same, if I feel they need more help than I can give, I can direct them to the Suffolk County Veterans Service Agency.”

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