If the heart of a car is its motor, then the owners of the souped-up cars that cruise into the annual Southern Oregon Rod and Custom Show have hearts just as big.

If the heart of a car is its motor, then the owners of the souped-up cars that cruise into the annual Southern Oregon Rod and Custom Show have hearts just as big.

The local car club, Rogue Valley Street Rods, which organizes the show, donates thousands of dollars each year to children from Southern Oregon who are in need of medical assistance. This year they donated $31,000, all from ticket sales to the annual car show and donations to the club.

The group of car enthusiasts has been donating to the Child Development and Rehabilitation Center for 30 years and has contributed more than $400,000 to the affiliate of Oregon Health & Science University.

The Rod and Custom Show, held at the Jackson County Expo in Central Point, was started in 1978. Since then, 100 percent of the event's profits have gone to charity.

The club connected with CDRC a few years after starting the show and has donated proceeds from the show to that organization for the last 30 years.

Part of the reason for the strong relationship is the involvement that CDRC has allowed the club in distributing the funds, said Troy Boyd, chairman of the show. Club members are able to determine where each dollar goes, and can reject any expenditure that the CDRC proposes for the donated dollars.

"We keep really close track of that money ... to account for exactly how much is being spent on what," said Boyd.

If the money goes toward anything other than an agreed-upon purchase, CDRC calls the club and asks permission. The club is also able to direct which region the money goes to, and none of the money goes toward administrative costs.

"Most of our supporters are from around here ... and so we wanted it to go toward the kids in our area," Boyd said.

That means the money raised here benefits kids who live in a region that lies roughly from Klamath Falls to the Pacific Ocean and Oregon's southern border to Roseburg, he said.

The show began as a small gathering of 20 or so cars, said club member Ron Peil. This year the show attracted 104 entries from as far away as British Columbia and attracted more than 5,000 spectators.

"We all love the cars, but I think our members do it a lot for the kids now. We are all retired, and if you can give something back to the youth, that's a good thing," Peil said. "Young kids like that, they can't help themselves, and you just don't like seeing them being in that position."

The money goes to services and equipment for the kids, including such things as rehabilitation equipment, clinic costs and travel for medical treatment.

"Seeing these kids walk when they couldn't before makes you realize why all the hard work is worth it," Boyd said. "That's why I do it."

Samuel C. Wheeler is a reporting intern with the Mail Tribune. Reach him at intern1@mailtribune.com.