Jessica Mathews /

Cleary University recently welcomed some 450 people at its annual Vehicle to a Better Future - the school’s signature fundraiser that directly supports scholarships for students in need.

Organizers say the event profited a record $175,000 for a single fundraiser - exceeding a total of $850,000 since its inception seven years ago.

The event featured a custom car showcase, a live on-stage concert, cocktails and cuisine, and the coveted Cleary Cup Culinary competition, featuring Grace & Porta Benefits, Ideal Group, Lake Trust Credit Union, MS Ultrasonic Technology and Piston Group.

This year’s winner of the cup was James “Buddha” Edwards, manager of Brand Marketing for Piston Group. The former Detroit Piston “Bad Boy,” paired with Detroit BBQ Company, won the sellout crowd over with a “Battle of Burnt Ends,” the food truck’s signature dish.

DBA Executive Vice President and Cleary Chief Advancement Officer Dr. Matt Bennett organized the event. He said Edwards is already looking forward to the 2023 competition and reclaiming his title.

Bennett commented “Every dollar raised from this event directly supports scholarships for students in need. This is the only major fundraising event Cleary hosts each year; we invest a great deal of time and energy to make it a celebration of our students and university, and our results have been extremely successful, thanks to the overwhelming support and generosity of local businesses and community members”.

Food trucks supporting the event and supplying the cuisine for the crowd included Captain’s Wood-Fired Pies, Fortune Cooking, Daley Grind, Detroit BBQ Company, Whoa Taco and Cookies & Cream desserts.

More information is available in the attached press release.