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Achieva Box Car Rally returns to downtown Clearwater
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The Achieva Box Car Rally, a family friendly event that serves as a supersized fundraiser for Pinellas County Schools, returns to Downtown Clearwater on Oct. 14.
CLEARWATER – The Achieva Box Car Rally, a family friendly event that serves as a supersized fundraiser for Pinellas County Schools, returns to Downtown Clearwater on Oct. 14.

The event, which is free to attend and attracts hundreds of participants and thousands of spectators to Cleveland Street and the surrounding area, has contributed more than $150,000 to county schools since its inception in 2010, according to Achieva officials.

“The Box Car Rally is one of our most popular community events and allows participants and spectators to have a little old-school fun,” Achieva Credit Union Chief Executive Officer Gary Regoli said in a press release announcing the event. “With each coming year, this event raises more and more money for us to give back to our local classrooms. The best part is, everyone one has a fantastic time while doing it.” 

Indeed, one of the more endearing aspects of the rally is the fact that it’s typically a family affair. In addition to parents bringing their kids to watch an old-school soap box derby, many families enter the race as a team and collaborate on their customized rally cars.

“The cool thing was that each year, the kids got more involved, naming the cars and helping to build them,” Clearwater’s Keith Gambaro, who participated in five straight events, said prior to the 2016 rally. “This year, five of the six boys will be racing, and my oldest is a teen, so he gets to drive this year. It’s hard to get everyone together, but this race does it.”

Although the Gambaros admitted all the planning and preparation can lead to chaos at home in the months leading up to the event, Keith’s wife, Christina, said it’s a great family bonding experience.

“It’s a lot of craziness,” Christina Gambaro, who also operates a food truck at the site, said. “But it’s exciting being able to do it all together as a team. I enjoy it.”

The 2017 Achieva Box Car Rally will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. In addition to 300 box car races featuring homemade cars and All-American Soap Box Derby-style vehicles, the event will also feature food trucks, vendor exhibits and a Kids Fun Zone with inflatables, balloon artists, face painters and much more.

Achieva Credit Union has held the Box Car Rally every year since 2010. In total, the foundation has contributed more than $150,000 through the event to benefit Pinellas County schools. These direct grants are administered by the Achieva Foundation, a 501(c)3 Corporation. Overall, the foundation has raised more than $305,000 for local school classrooms through their sponsorship of community events. 

“It’s part of the Achieva Credit Union culture to support our community,” Achieva Communications and Events Specialist Chelsey Wilson said. “Our team takes great pride in putting on this unique event each year and volunteering their time. Seeing families come together and race cars they have built and hearing about the school projects funded through classroom grants we’re able to provide just reminds us how special the Box Car Rally is and what it means to our community.”

If you go

What: The 8th Annual Achieva Box Car Rally

When: Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Cleveland Street and Osceola Avenue, Downtown Clearwater

Parking: Free event parking will be available in the lower Harborview Center parking lot. Parking is also available in the Garden Avenue parking garage. Vehicles pulling trailers are encouraged to park in the City Hall parking lot, located at 112 S. Osceola Ave.

Info: For more information about the race, visit www.a­chiev­aboxc­arral­ly.co­m/.
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