Women drivers finish philanthropic road trip in Las Vegas

Updated June 11, 2018 - 9:19 am

The red cars pulled up one by one on Las Vegas Boulevard outside the Encore, a police escort following closely.

Behind each wheel was a woman.

The cars, including Maseratis and Bentleys, were wrapped in the symbolic red of Cash &Rocket, an international philanthropic road trip geared toward raising $1 million for nonprofits supporting women and children through health and education.

It was the first time the road trip was completed in the United States.

And on Sunday, during the last leg of the road trip that began in San Francisco, the women stopped to honk their horns and wave at the passers-by.

Janine Robertson and Anna Jarvis, both from London, stepped out of their BMW i8 and took in the Las Vegas Strip for the first time.

“The adrenaline fueled the trip,” said Jarvis, 42. “It’s all about us sticking together and looking after each other.”

The two blasted music by Calvin Harris as they drove through the desert and 95-degree heat on Interstate 15 and finally arrived in Las Vegas.

“I can’t really explain what it’s like to drive across California supporting all women,” Jarvis said. “It was like crossing a finish line.”

The trip encompassed 700 miles since Thursday, in 40 cars driven by 80 different women.

The women — driving through Monterey, Santa Barbara, Malibu, Los Angeles and ending in Las Vegas — stopped to participate in various activities and events to spread awareness for the charities.

Some celebrity drivers included supermodel Ashley Graham, Grammy-winning recording artist Michelle Williams, actress Jackie Cruz and designer Gelila Assefa Puck, among others.

Julie Brangstrup, a mother of seven who lives in London, started the movement in 2011.

“By uniting 80 international women and empowering them, I knew that we could make a difference,” she said. “We’ve been able to give opportunities to these women and children that they wouldn’t have if we didn’t do this drive.”

The fundraising efforts benefit three nonprofits for women and children: the Art of Elysium, Shine on Sierra Leone and Sumbandila. The event also raises awareness for other social issues.

A Saudi team of two women also drove this year to celebrate the lifting of the country’s driving ban on women.

Ericka Huggins, a prominent leader of the original Black Panther Party, delivered a speech during the kickoff event in San Francisco.

Fashion designer Rachel Zelic of Los Angeles took part in the European road trip in 2015 as well as the inaugural U.S. event.

Helping out with Cash &Rocket is a constructive use of her business and marketing skills to raise money, said Zelic, 33, creator of the brand Majorelle.

“Everyone should just be empowered to just do the little bit that they can,” she said. “It’s really epic to see all the cars, united, driving together. It sends a really strong message about how powerful we can be.”

Contact Briana Erickson at berickson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5244. Follow @brianarerick on Twitter.

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