by Toni Reece, Fat Boys Jeepers
On Saturday July 7, 2007, the Indiana Four Wheel Drive Association held its 5th Annual Camp Riley 4XKids day. Camp Riley is associated with Riley's Children Hospital located in Indianapolis. This event allows members of IFWDA to take the campers and staff members attending Camp Riley on a trail ride through an off-road course located on the 2,500 acres of Bradford Woods, north of Martinsville, Indiana. This year approx. 97 campers with disabilities were in attendance. Those disabilities include Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida or Down Syndrome. It allows every camper to get into a 4WD vehicle and sit in the vehicle's seat without any mention of a handicap. This way, each camper gets to feel what it's like to drive up and down hills, through mud and through a waterway.
The ride begins and ends in the parking lot of Bradford Woods. The trail goes down a big sweeping hill, past the horse stables, and follows a dirt maintenance road through the woods. It crosses a rickety, wooden bridge and heads to the southeast side of the property where the campers ride past Camp Riley's rock climbing wall. It continues to the Dam of the lake, across the spillway to the North side of the property, and then travels down a steep hill where the historical Teepee can be seen. The trail then makes a U-turn and right back up the steep hill to the southwest side of the property to pass by the swimming and beach area where the canoes and pontoons are stored. The ride lasts at least 20 minutes, but can take up to 35 minutes. Needless to say, some of the 97 campers start out somewhat intimidated and scared, but after the event is over, no one can find a child that isn't ready to get back into a vehicle and go again! Often there are campers who are refusing to get out of the vehicles. I personally have heard many of Riley's campers make the statement "When I grow up, I'm getting me a Jeep!"
As one of the traditions of the event, t-shirts are printed up for all who attend. This year, 252 event shirts were printed. To make these shirts available, companies or individuals purchase advertising spots on the t-shirt. If it wasn't for the generous donations from the following individuals, clubs and businesses, event t-shirts would not have been available this year for 4XKIDS Day.
- Hi-Lift Jack Company- Jason Skomp
- 4WPPC of Indianapolis- Mike Devore
- Indiana Commercial Interiors- Chris Smith
- UAW Local 588- Randy Brooks
- Milestone Contractors- Bill Henry
- Principle Imprinting- Burke Soper
- Clover Patch, Inc.- Bob Abondolo
- PinPoint Resources- Jim Ellis
- Hoosier Container Inc.- Eric Barnes
- Richmond Industrial Supply, Inc.- Rudy Sperling
- 4 Wheels to Freedom
- MOJO Offroad
- RuffRiders 4X4 Club
- Fat Boys Jeepers
- Iron Horse 4X4's
- John Doty, of Doty Graphics, for event logo design.
- Gene Engleking, Manager of the Martinsville (Indiana) NAPA, for the use of several Port-a-Cools on this hot, humid day.
- Gerry Tromp, of Northern Fire Equipment Merrillville, Indiana, for the donation of fire extinguishers that were used as door prizes to the drivers and helpers in attendance.
Past IFWDA President and 4XKIDS Day event coordinator, Scott Sperling, conceived this event from day one and does the work to make it materialize. Thank you Scott for doing such a great service for IFWDA and Fat Boys Jeepers! We can't wait till next year!!