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Touch-a-Truck: First-ever event in Cape Saturday

By Staff | Mar 6, 2015

Cape Coral’s first ever Touch-A-Truck event will take place this weekend for families. Hosted by the South Cape Hospitality and Entertainment Associations and the Southwest Florida Military Museum and Library, it will be held Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the museum’s parking lot. The event features several trucks and vehicles for children of all ages to discover and explore.

Admission is free, and parking is available in the nearby public lots.

“It’s a car show with trucks, but you can touch them,” Fran Marsino, an event co-chair with her husband, Steve, said. “The kids will be able to crawl in them, explore them, honk the horns.”

A Cape resident, Marsino also serves as a volunteer for the South Cape associations.

“They wanted to do a family-friendly event,” she said, noting that the group is better known for organizing more adult-centered events that involve alcohol, like pub crawls and trolley runs.

The Marsinos suggested hosting a Touch-A-Truck event. She explained that their grandson, Ethan Leighty, 8, of Clearwater, enjoys attending them. He is affected by Fragile X syndrome.

The Cape event will offer a horns-free hour from 9 to 10 a.m. for children with sensitive ears.

“There’s no horn blowing,” Marsino said. “This is for kids with autism, Fragile X.”

There will also be a quiet zone available on site for youth who need it.

“They can decompress in there,” she said.

FXS is the most common cause of inherited intellectual disability, and the most common known genetic cause of autism or autism spectrum disorders, according to the National Fragile X Foundation. Symptoms range from learning disabilities to more severe cognitive and intellectual disabilities.

Delays in speech and language development are common, as are a variety of physical and behavioral characteristics. The foundation reported that FXS is caused by a full mutation of the FMR1 Gene.

“We’re very geared toward the special needs kids, but kids of all ages are welcome,” Marsino said of the Touch-A-Truck event. “Even adult kids can come play.”

There will be nearly 30 different vehicles on hand, including the Cape police Mobile Command Unit and marine vessel, a Cape fire truck, a Lee County EMS ambulance and a vacuum truck from the city’s Public Works Department, as well as an antique fire truck, a refrigerator truck, bug vehicle and more.

“Everybody has a different favorite truck,” she said. “We just tried to get a variety.”

Each of the children will receive a truck passport to fill out.

“On the passport it has different stops, like different vendors you go to or different trucks you go to, and get it stamped,” Marsino said.

Completed passports can be turned in for a chance to spin a wheel and win a prize.

“That’s free,” she said.

The event will also feature over 20 vendor booths, ranging from local businesses to health and safety exhibitors. One of the booths that will be set up will provide information on Fragile X syndrome.

“Some of those are children’s games,” Marsino said.

Trafalgar Middle School’s Builders Club will man the children’s activity booths, which will include face painting, craft tables, a toilet toss, a duck pond and more. Tickets for the games are $1 each.

“Pretty much every game is $1,” she said.

Raffle tickets will also be available for purchase at the event.

“We’ve got a lot of items,” Marsino said. “Almost $3,000 worth of items.”

Some of the items are a two-night stay at the Dolphin Key Resort, one-year membership to Sea Tow, LiftMaster garage door opener, 90th anniversary Lionel Train set and Key West Express tickets.

Ticket holders do not have to be present to win.

Live entertainment will be performed by local dance and singing groups.

“It’s all geared toward children,” she said.

Food and drinks will be available for purchase on site.

“All proceeds are going to the National Fragile X Foundation,” Marsino said.

The foundation’s aim is to provide education and emotion support for families, promote public and professional awareness of FXS, and advance research toward improved treatments and a cure.

As of Thursday, event organizers had already raised $4,000.

“We’ve exceeded our goal,” she said. “But our goal’s more for awareness than funds.”

Parking for the event will be available in the Winn-Dixie, Club Square and Iguana Mia lots.

For more information, visit online at: www.facebook.com/CapeCoralTouchaTruck.

To learn more about the National Fragile X Foundation, visit: www.fragilex.org.