Kelce Car Jam helps hundreds of students

Published: Sep. 22, 2023 at 6:36 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - The Kelce Car Jam revved up the energy in the West Bottoms on Friday.

The event highlights NFL star Travis Kelce’s love of classic cars and music, all while helping students and families in KC.

Dozens of cars were on display under the 12th Street Bridge, two of which were transformed by students within the Ignition Lab at Operation Breakthrough.

Mary Esselman, the CEO of Operation Breakthrough, said the program has a tremendous impact on hundreds of students.

“The kids start by learning welding and grinding, they work on rust and body, and they get to start working on the actual conversions, changing out of parts, working on batteries, all those things you need fundamental skills for,” Esselman said.

The students have been working on transforming a Chevell into an electric car for about two years, and it’s the first muscle car conversion done by students.

“The goal is to also have some certification, so the kids can work towards a welding certification, so lots of things that are really powerful for them as they graduate high school or determine a focus for college,” Esselman said.

Esselman said she’s seen firsthand the impact Kelce has on the students. “Travis is a great role model; he’s been here a couple of times, getting his hands a little dirty,” Esselman said. “I think kids know that hard work is what’s going to get you places, and so they hear that from him, they see that and obviously, he’s just a great motivator.”

For students like Maliyah Monrow, she’s thankful to be in the program.

“When I got here, I’m going to be honest, I had no idea what I was doing,” Monrow said. “But now, I have learned things that I can take into the real world and things I can use for an actual career that I can pursue later on in the future.”

All of the proceeds from Kelce Car Jam will go towards his foundation, 87 & Running.

“I think it’s a great experience and cool to be a part of such a big experience,” said student Semahj Ware.