By Michael Rosenbaum
Fat Boys Jeepers
On Saturday, July 31, 2005, members of the Indiana Four-Wheel Drive Association convened at Bradford Woods for the 3rd annual 4XKIDS Day. The turn-out was terrific, with about 60 IFWDA members participating, including members of Fat Boys Jeepers, Firewalkers, Monroe County 4X4 Club, Four Wheels to Freedom, and JP Frog. While most of the participants came from Indiana, we also had members drive in from Illinois, Ohio, and Kentucky.
After a brief driver's meeting and practice run through the course, we picked up the first round of campers and headed for the woods. About 80 children from Camp Riley participated in the event, which offered children with severe physical disabilities the opportunity to ride through the woods in one of the 36 vehicles that turned out for the day. Each of the campers had hand-made "thank you" notes for their drivers, and the children had also drawn a large banner welcoming us to camp. We added a water crossing to the trail this year, and a Camp Riley staff member was waiting at the end of the crossing to take Polaroid pictures of the campers in the vehicles. Along the trail, many of the campers could be heard chatting to each other on the CB radios. After a fifteen minute ride, we drove back to the staging area where we dropped off the kids and picked up more campers who were eagerly awaiting their turn.
This was the third year of 4XKIDS Day, and it was our most successful yet in terms of donations to Camp Riley. At the end of the event, we presented Camp Riley with a check in the amount of $1461, which brought the three-year total of funds raised to over $3000! This money will be used for a special project on the grounds of Bradford Woods. It also subsidizes the considerable cost of the children's two-week trips to camp. In other words, our efforts are directly helping these children have a wonderful camping experience at Bradford Woods Aside from the monetary donations, we were also able to hand out free commemorative t-shirts to all of the campers and Camp Riley Staff. Thanks to Hi-Lift Jack (Austin Harrah), Smith Drywall (Chris Smith), 4Wheel Parts Performance (Mike Devore), Window Roll On-Board Window Storage (Bob Abondolo), Fat Boys Jeepers, Perfect Promotions (Kim Devore), Flying Hook Crane Service (Jonathan Dawes), Hoosier Container (Eric Barnes), 4XFools Off-Road Club, and Richmond Industrial Supply Company, Inc. (Rudy Sperling), for sponsoring the shirts. Many of the kids also marked the event with a Hi-Lift Jack temporary tattoo.
Carol Stone, Director of the Camping and Retreats Center at Bradford Woods, had this to say about the day: "This was our 3rd year partnering with the Indiana Four-Wheel Drive Association to put on the Riley 4XKIDS Day here at Camp Riley. Each year it seems to only get better! Both kids and staff have a fantastic time and it's simply a wonderful integrative event bringing together people of all ages and all abilities to simply have a good time! We look forward to the event every year with some kids now only choosing the camp session where they get to ride in the Jeeps! I trust it will become a true 'camp tradition' with us still partnering together hopefully 10, 15 years down the line."
Since joining IFWDA last fall, many people had suggested that I participate in this annual event. Past participants told me that it was a truly rewarding and fun experience, and that it was a great opportunity to get together with other IFWDA members and make a positive impact on the community. After participating in the 3rd annual event, I could see why 4XKIDS day has had such an impact on many of our members. Although the course was not technically challenging, it was a blast to share our passion for the trail with children who obviously enjoyed sharing the day with us.