The Road Kings of Burbank offered a total of $10,000 to local groups at their general monthly meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 13.
Bruce Borst, president of the Road Kings, spoke before members of the organization as he and Road Kings Community Relations Representative Don Baldaseroni presented the funds at the Burbank Elks Lodge. Four recipients were chosen to collect the donations: The Burbank Police Foundation, The Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley, the Burbank Temporary Aid Center, and the Burbank Historical Society. Representatives from each nonprofit were handed a large $2,500 check in front of the guests.
The Road Kings, which currently consists of 70 regular participants, has collected money at car shows since the early ‘90s, which they routinely give back to philanthropic initiatives in Burbank. Baldaseroni estimates that the Road Kings has bestowed about $500,000 to nonprofits in the city over the years.
BPF Executive Board Members Cristina Spratt and Brendan Turner, Board of Directors Member and Burbank Police Department Captain J.J. Puglisi, as well as BPD Captain Adam Cornils, BPD Officer Joseph Nuñez, and a BPD canine named Rosco were in attendance on behalf of the police foundation.
BGC Program Director Arpineh Khodagholian and Director of Marketing and Special Events Tracey Ban accepted the sum for the Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley. Burbank Historical Society Museum President Carey Briggs received a check for the museum, and Barbara Howell, CEO of the Burbank Temporary Aid Center, likewise made an appearance.
Khodagholian expressed her and Ban’s gratitude as they served as representatives for the BGC.
“This means a lot to us, so thank you,” Khodagholian said. “Thank you so much for the continuous support throughout the years.”
This national organization provides a variety of services for youth in areas such as the arts, athletics, and health, in addition to an afterschool Deaf & Hard of Hearing program. Khodagholian explained how the money from this donation will go toward aiding families in need of assistance to afford these useful resources.
“What we’re really proud of is that we don’t turn anyone away for an inability to pay,” Khodagholian said. “So we’re constantly working with low-income families, families that cannot make the monthly payments. We work with everybody. So that’s something that really means a lot to all of us at the club.”
When Briggs took the microphone and addressed attendees, he shared memories of witnessing the Road Kings continue their community-focused endeavors during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Briggs named a COVID-safe event the group put together at this time as “the best car show that was ever thrown in Burbank.” He also shared how these efforts led to a local morale boost as communities were impacted by the pandemic globally.
“It was a worldwide shutdown. Nobody could do anything,” Briggs said. “ … But what did the Road Kings do? They went outside the box, and they brought their cars to people that were shut in and couldn’t come out. [You] had your parades and … waved at people and brought the smile and the compassion that the Road Kings have, to the people. And that wasn’t forgotten.”
In addition, Briggs referenced Kong’s Speed Shop, a hot rod and racing industry exhibit in the Burbank Historical Society museum that includes Road Kings memorabilia, saying he feels “really proud” to have keepsakes from the group on display.
“We love hosting you guys, we love teaming with you guys, and from the bottom of my heart, thank you to the Road Kings,” Briggs said.
Howell noted that she’s seen approximately 15 Road Kings charitable functions and “appreciate[s] the ongoing support.” She stated that there are a higher number of people experiencing homelessness in other areas of Los Angeles than there are in Burbank, but the individuals who aren’t often recognized are those on the brink of being unhoused. BTAC ensures that the needs of these persons are being met by providing features like groceries, laundry spaces, and funds for utility payments, among others.
“What you really don’t see are the people who are housed and trying not to become homeless, who come in for groceries twice a month to pick up hundreds of dollars of groceries that are donated,” Howell said before adding, “So we are now becoming, out of necessity, part of that support system. We’re very grateful for this … There are a lot of people out there who are very grateful for the work that you do on the front end so that we can help them on the back. So thank you.”
The festivities concluded with all present Road Kings members joining at the front of the room for a group photo. Baldaseroni opened up about this special experience, which allows Road Kings members to see first-hand the impact of their devoted participation in car shows and other fundraisers.
“It goes beyond the feeling you get,” Baldaseroni said of giving back to the community. “It adds validity to what we do … and all the hard struggles we go through putting the car shows on and everything. This is like the culmination of all that, and we’re able to give money to the charities.”
“It just seems like the natural thing to do, to support our city,” Baldaseroni added. “That’s why we’re doing it.”