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Touch-A-Truck: Family fundraiser Saturday

By Staff | Mar 31, 2016

The second annual Touch-A-Truck event will return to Cape Coral this weekend for families.

Hosted by the South Cape Hospitality and Entertainment Associations, the event will take place on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. outside of the Southwest Florida Military Museum and Library. It will feature trucks and vehicles for children of all ages to check out, along with entertainment and more.

“We have over 35 vehicles for the kids to crawl in and play in, and honk the horn and ask questions,” Fran Marsino, co-chair of the event with her husband, Steve, said. “It’s fun for the whole family.”

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

Proceeds from the event will benefit the National Fragile X Foundation.

The Marsinos grandson, Ethan Leighty, 4, of Clearwater, has Fragile X syndrome. When the South Cape groups were looking for a family event to host, the couple suggested a touch-a-truck event.

“As a young child, Ethan loves touch-a-truck events,” 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.

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.

“If we tell people he has Fragile X, nobody knows what it is,” Marsino said.

Last year’s event raised nearly $7,000 for the foundation.

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

“Autistic children and special needs children have a sensitivity to loud noises, so for the first hour we’re catering to them,” she said, adding that there will be no entertainment during the first hour, as well.

“We also have a zone-free area,” Marsino said.

The zone is set up for any special needs children who need a space to calm down during the day’s excitement. It will be carpeted and include activities, like coloring, and it will be open all day.

“So they can kind of get back to their normal self,” she said.

Many of the trucks and vehicles on hand took part last year, 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 Public Works Department, as well as a refrigerator truck, bug vehicle and more.

New this year will be a helicopter, dump truck and swamp buggy from the Florida Forest Service, along with a Home for Heroes jeep, monster truck for Jaimes Towing, concrete truck and maintenance traffic truck from Preferred Materials and a handicap taxi from Southwest Florida Transportation.

“So that’ll be interesting for the kids to see,” Marsino said.

Also new this year will be a 1937 Dodge hotrod and mulch blowing truck from Express Mulch, plus a grade-all truck from Public Works and two of the Cape police department’s new BMW motorcycles.

“We might have a garbage truck, but we’re not positive on that yet,” she said Thursday.

The event will feature vendors, including local businesses and services.

“They’ll have booths set up with information,” Marsino said.

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

She explained that the passport will have truck and business logos on it.

“They need to go around to each of those and have their passport stamped,” Marsino said.

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

“We have children’s carnival games,” she said.

Trafalgar Middle School’s Builders Club will man the children’s games and activities, which will include a duck pond, lollipop pool, basketball game, toilet toss, arts and crafts, and more.

Tickets for the games are $1 each or six for $5.

“It’s a ticket a game,” Marsino said.

Live entertainment for the day includes Digits, JC Jam, Martial Arts University, Rhythm in Motion ballroom dancers, singers Bruce and Cecile, Nabbie’s School of Performing Arts and Caveman Dave.

“He sings folk songs for the kids,” she said.

Kimberly Jacobs, a local veteran, will serve as the emcee.

To help raise more funds for the foundation, there will be items raffled off.

There are themed baskets, venue tickets, a train set, golf package and more. Marsino noted that organizers made trucks out of cardboard boxes, with one filled with toys for the grand prize.

“There’s multiple items and gift cards,” she said.

Food and drinks will be available for purchase on site.

“We’ll have hot dogs and chips and juice boxes,” Marsino said.

There will also be Kona Ice and Maru’s Tropical Tastes, a food truck out of Naples that serves up Cuban sandwiches, steak sandwiches, tamales and more.

“It’s a nice way to spend Saturday, exploring and having fun with trucks,” she said.

Parking is available in the Winn-Dixie, Club Square and Iguana Mia lots.

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

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

The Southwest Florida Military Museum and Library is at 4820 Leonard St.