Eleven years ago, the Historic Market Square Merchants Association asked Chuck ReQua of Lake Forest, who owned Memory Lane Motors on Route 176, if he would organize a car show in Market Square during their summer Concerts in the Square series. The last Thursday in July 2001, Chuck and his car-minded comrades rolled out a series of gorgeous classic automobiles to be admired while that evening’s band played. The pairing was such a success that they decided to make it an annual event.
Three years after the car show began, Chuck passed away from melanoma and the organizers of Concerts in the Square asked his wife, Martha ReQua, former owner of The Frame Forum in Market Square, if she would use Chuck’s contacts to keep the car show going. She agreed on the condition that it also serve as a fundraiser for melanoma research. Since then, the annual event has gotten bigger and better every year, attracting more classic car owners and music lovers as the word gets around.
“I took his mailing list, I composed a letter about the event and fundraiser in Chuck’s memory, and sent it to as many people as I could,” says Martha. “I continue to do that and to add people to the list at the event every year. I have about 400 people on my mailing list now. The money that’s raised goes to Rush University Medical Center. They provide me with envelopes so that the donations don’t come to me, they go directly to the center.”
The donations to Rush also go to support other efforts in the battle against the disease, such as the Chicago Melanoma Consortium, the epicenter for interaction between area melanoma specialists. The Consortium also maintains a website that lists the active clinical trials for patients and their families. The car show itself has helped to raise area awareness of the dangers of melanoma and how it’s contracted. In years past, Rush has provided Martha with sample-sized sunscreen to hand out, and event attendees can find a table set up with information on melanoma detection and prevention with someone available to answer questions.
If your questions range more along the automotive lines, the owners of all of the classic cars are on hand to discuss everything from restoration to how they handle. Each year’s entries are judged by a panel of Chuck’s closest car confidants to present an award called Chuck’s Choice. It’s essentially the Market Square Car Show’s Best in Show Award, but the assembled autos are examined based not only on pristine appearance and attention to detail, but also the owner’s passion and dedication to both the car and the restoration process. For instance, previous winner Graham Sauser of Lake Forest restored a 1974 Ford Gran Torino to perfection while he was in high school, even setting up a tent around it so he could continue work during the winter.
This year’s show will be held on Thursday, July 26. Cars will arrive starting at 5 p.m. The Legends will start their oldies set at 6:30 p.m., playing crowd-pleasers from the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, everyone from The Beatles to The Beach Boys to The Rolling Stones. This year’s pairing of classic cars and classic rock is sponsored by Broadacre Market Square Management Co. and Lake Forest Bank & Trust Company. Entry to the event and entering a car in the competition are both free of charge.
“Melanoma is curable if detected early, so it is critical to raise awareness about the disease, check for skin cancer regularly, and protect our children and grandchildren from the sun’s damaging rays and tanning beds,” says Martha. “Last year, we raised over $6,000, and my goal is to exceed that amount in 2012.”
For more information on the Market Square Car Show, call Martha ReQua at 847-234-6405. To learn about the Chicago Melanoma Consortium, visit them online at chicagomelanomaconsortium.org.