A Positive Step

Making a Difference with Cars

Story provided - February 05, 2013 10:00 AM


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We use the word “survivor” carefully when we are talking about cars because it has to meet certain criteria to qualify.

The same holds true for people because the act of survival is not something to be taken lightly.

Larry Herrera of San Dimas, California, is a survivor, one who has been put through tests and tribulations and has come away from the experience on the right side. Larry is certainly not alone in any respect because there are others who can tell a similar story, but there are many more who aren’t as fortunate.

Over a year ago, Larry Herrera was diagnosed with prostate cancer. After battling the disease for a year, Larry’s bout with the male-centric cancer went into remission. His doctors attributed his success largely to the fact he detected and caught his symptoms early.

Larry is a car enthusiast, has been all of his life, and the owner of a 1965 Pontiac Tempest. When he looked in his garage, he didn’t see a car, but an opportunity. Given his circumstances and awareness, Larry wanted to take his Tempest to car shows, places where there are plenty of men to receive the message about early detection and treatment. His Tempest was not a show car or, at least, not yet. He turned to his soon-to-be son-in-law Lorenzo Strong with an idea. He wanted to rebuild the car and Lorenzo, who has been in the car industry, would be a great partner for the idea. Lorenzo gladly obliged his future father-in-law. For the next year, they embarked on a project that would become a labor of love with unlimited future potential.

The project was “finished” in October 2012. After months of not seeing his classic, albeit used, Tempest, Herrera got the surprise of a lifetime. It had undergone a major restoration inside and out, all through donations.

“Several auto shops in the Los Angeles and Inland Empire areas donated their time and resources to helping us make the ’65 Tempest into what you see now,” said Lorenzo. “If it had not been for the generosity of companies such as Kumho Tire believing in Larry’s cause and providing the perfect parts, we could not have made the Tempest into the shiny piece of rolling art is it is.

“A car is a common point of interest for men of all ages. We feel that bringing the Tempest to car shows and telling the people who come by to look at it what it symbolizes will act as a disarming conversation starter about the issue.” Larry and Lorenzo agree that if even one man they talk with at a car show is encouraged enough to get screened, the effort will be worthwhile and potentially lifesaving.

“My friends and neighbors asked me how I felt about exposing something so personal that happened to me,” Larry said. “I told them I felt really good about it. Men have to get it together and we have to do something good for ourselves, have the doctor examine us. It can really save lives. I saved my own by getting screened early.”

The two men have already begun their plan to take the car throughout Southern California and plan an ambitious schedule in 2013. When you walk through a show field, keep an eye out for this Pontiac. It is somewhat fitting that it is a Tempest, described as “a violent commotion, disturbance or tumult”. That word describes how news of cancer can disrupt lives, but the message from this car project is more positive and impactful. It’s about making a difference.