Gulf Coast Auto Park has been donating $20 to the VOW22 Foundation for veterans for every vehicle sold this month, and the auto park had some special guests who spread and received smiles Saturday.

Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa stopped by Gulf Coast Auto Park in Angleton to engage with fans and spread some joy in a meet and greet opportunity.

“We have a really good connection with the Astros the past few years with Alex Bregman coming down a couple of years ago, and this year we had Carlos,” Gulf Coast Auto General Manager Mark Holian said. “We’ve also been raising funds for VOW22 for the entire month, and we’ve raised over $3,500 so far, and our goal is to get to $8,000. They’re a wonderful group that does great work for our local veterans.”

The meet and greet was open to the public and visitors were welcome to donate to VOW22.

Knowing Correa would be coming to town, Holian made a call that would do a little more outreach for certain members in the community by allowing them to meet with the Astros player privately.

“Once I found out Correa was coming, we wanted to invite members of VOW22 to be able to meet privately with him,” Holian said. “I also reached out to Rueben (Arias) to see if Ethan (Arias) would like to meet with Correa, too. I’ve known Rueben and (his wife) for a long time and I was glad to see the happiness in everyone’s face when they got to meet Correa.”

Holian explained it as a moment people in the community needed, especially the Arias and members of VOW22.

Another person who got to meet Correa privately was 10-year old Karson Knape, who has a rare lung disease that prevents him from attending events with large crowds in fear of getting sick.

“I’m so grateful Karson was given the opportunity to visit with Carlos Correa,”said Breah Knape, Karson’s mother and a Danbury resident. “Correa was so kind and made my son feel like a friend.”

VOW22 Vice President Stephanie Vincent said she was grateful for the opportunity provided by Gulf Coast Auto Park.

“It was extremely touching they invited us to share that moment with the Arias family and our members,” Vincent said. “Everyone just seemed so excited with all their Astros gear on, and it was good for our community because we can be forgotten about sometimes.”

VOW22’s main objective is to provide counseling programs for veterans who are held at the Brazoria County Counseling Center in Angleton, Vincent said. They host meet and greets for veterans in the area to help them grow their support system and fill the void of lost camaraderie locally.

“It’s always great being able to sit in the background and watch athletes engage with kids; they actually genuinely care about them and that’s the best part,” Holian said. “We continually try to do things that show Gulf Coast cares in the community. It’s important to us that we do that.”

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