Muscle cars, muscled bodies: Red Hot Sizzlin’ Summer Car Show and Fitness Expo raises funds benefiting Shriners Hospital for Children in Honolulu

Muscle cars and muscled bodies were some of the highlights at the Red Hot Sizzlin’ Summer Car Show and Fitness Expo Saturday at Old Kona Airport Park.

The event, which drew thousands of spectators, featured over 280 cars in 19 categories ranging from 4×4 trucks, classic cars, antiques, hot rods and motorcycles along with food booths, and vendors. Inside Makaeo Pavilion, guest bodybuilder Ala Ablao posed for the exuberant audience. Ablao, who trains at Pacific Island Fitness, will be representing Kona while competing in Las Vegas for the USA Bodybuilding Championships later this month. In addition to Ablao, there was a bodybuilding competition featuring local entrants.

Saturday was the first time the expo has been held since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and organizer Vic Comesario, owner of Transmission Technology, said he was pleased at the turnout for the fundraising event benefiting Shriners Hospital for Children in Honolulu and Pasqual Bernal, former owner of Pacific Island Fitness.

“We raised money through food sales, car and competition entry fees, donations and our raffle” said Comesario. “We are looking at giving both beneficiaries $9,000.”

Bernal, who sold Pacific Island Fitness in 2019, is battling Stage 3 Squamous Cell Carcinoma that has spread to the lymph nodes in his neck since last year.

On his GoFundMe page, Bernal said “A friend informed us about CHIPSA Alternative Cancer Treatment in Tijuana Mexico. CHIPSA is an Enhanced Gerson Therapy Hospital with Advanced Immunotherapy. This Hospital follows a more natural approach, with a special Gerson diet plan, immunotherapy in combination with other cancer treatments including conventional therapy in an integrative approach.”

Unfortunately, his insurance does not cover any “alternative treatments” or medications unless it is in their “specific network” of participating doctors.

Shriners Hospital offers children care for a range of orthopedic issues, as well as care for burn injuries, craniofacial conditions, spine care and spinal cord injuries, colorectal and gastrointestinal care, and sports medicine, regardless of the family’s ability to pay.

Comesario started the expo in 2008 to give back to the Kona community.

“My wife and I love the community and love this island. We moved here from Honolulu in 1995 and my four kids grew up here,” he said. “We wanted to show we care and can give back to the community.”

Comesario had a team that helped him execute the daunting task of putting on a show of this magnitude, including 18 corporate sponsors, 20 trophy sponsors and 14 business sponsors.

He said it takes a village to put on an event like this.

“We are only as strong as our community,” he said. “You get back what you put into it to make it a better place.”

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