Touch-A-Truck to feature more than 30 vehicles
The third annual Cape Coral Touch-A-Truck fundraiser will move to the revamped Lafayette Street in the South Cape where it will be turned into a street festival this Saturday.
More than three dozen vehicles – including a fire department ladder truck; forestry bulldozer, swamp buggy and dump truck; police SWAT car and personal watercraft; a refrigerator semi-truck and moving truck – are expected to be on hand.
The hands-on event geared towards children will also feature vendors selling their wares, as well as food trucks.
Other nonprofit organizations that help the special needs population will also be apart of the festivities.
Touch-A-Truck co-chairpersons Fran and Steve Marsino first saw the Touch-A-Truck event in Clearwater and thought it was a great idea.
“What we do is we go around and solicit different counties and cities, parks and recs and forestry departments and ask them to bring their big trucks and vehicles that kids don’t normally see or get near,” Steve Marsino said, adding that the children have the opportunity to climb into the vehicles, honk the horns and have their pictures taken.
The Touch-A-Truck event will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. between Cape Coral Street and Vincennes on Lafayette Street.
Admission is free.
From 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. a horn-free hour will be available for children on the autism spectrum as well as anyone who may not want to eal with all the noise associated with the trucks.
The event will also have a quiet zone for those who need a space to decompress. The area will include a kiddie table and chairs, as well as coloring books and toy trucks.
The event will also feature a truck passport for the kids. After the children get their passports stamped, they can bring it back to the wheel booth for a free prize.
“The kids like going around to the different places,” Marsino said of the activity.
Although putting on the event is a lot of work, he said it’s a lot of fun as well.
“Seeing all of the kids and the smiles on their faces and getting the parents and kids outside in the fresh air where they need to be, (makes it) all worth while. It’s very rewarding for me and my wife,” Steve said.
Marsino said his world kind of turned upside down in 2013.
“My grandson was diagnosed with Fragile X, so we decided in 2015 to start to do the Touch-A-Truck event,” he said.
After a blood test, he found out that he is a carrier of Fragile X. Marsino said males pass on the x chromosome to females.
“FXS can have development delays ranging from mild to severe and it affects the FMR1 gene,” he explained.
The genetic condition can cause such things as significant intellectual disability; language and developmental delays; behavioral and mental health issues.
Marsino ‘s grandson, Ethan Leighty, is 6-1/2 years old. He does not speak and has anxiety issues. Marsino said he is not like many children on the autism spectrum – he likes to rough house, play and keeps eye contact.
“He doesn’t mind being touched most of the time,” he said. “We go up and watch him every other weekend in Clearwater.”
The event was initially done through the South Cape Hospitality Entertainment district, which Marsino said helped a lot. In 2017 the Marsinos decided to start their foundation, EHL Fragile X Foundation, Inc., which is what the event is held under now.
“All of the money that we are raising basically goes to the advocacy of and the rights of the people that have Fragile X,” he said.
Most of the money raised stays local to help families, some goes to the national Fragile X foundation and some goes towards genetic testing and research of Fragile X, Marsino said.
The foundation’s mission is to “promote awareness, education and inclusion in the community to enrich the lives of those affected by Fragile X syndrome and to advocate for the rights of individuals affected by Fragile X.”
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/CapeCoralTouchaTruck.