Four years ago I did a story on the 10th anniversary of the Waggoner Car Show. I had covered the show since I’d been back at the paper and I thought this was a good way to promote something good for a town that means a lot to me. My dad grew up in Waggoner and we often visited my grandparents there when I was a kid.
I got a chance to talk to Chris Morris, who was one of the
show’s organizers and somebody that was a few years older than me at
Lincolnwood. I knew Chris a little, his wife Dana was a year older than me, but
the interview was a great opportunity to know him better. Over the next few
years Andy Beal, a friend of mine and my brother Daniel, and Andy’s brother
Joey joined Chris, with Andy’s wife Angie also joining the fold.
|Grace is all smiles when Andy and Kyle showed her the purple trophies with "A Grace Filled Journey" on them.|
Since then, I’ve tried my best to help out any way I can. I’ve run stories before and after the show in The Journal-News and have really enjoyed seeing the event grow each year, especially knowing how much Chris, Dana, Andy, Angie and Joey put into it. It’s not just a car show. It’s a family event… with a smoke show at the end.
Before this year’s show, I talked to Andy, who asked if
Grace and Mary would be able to make it to the show too. They don’t usually
come because the last few years it’s been on a day where I’ve had three
assignments (MTXE golf outing and the Carlinville Kickoff Classic) and that’s
way too long of a day for the Grace Monster. But this year, this was our only
assignment and Mary was happy to come along, especially after Andy told us that
they had ordered a trophy for Grace.
|Check out these awesome trophies from the Waggoner Car Show!|
As it turns out, that’s not all that they had in store. When we made it to Waggoner, Andy took us into the Centennial Hall to show us the trophies, each and every one of which was purple and had “A Grace Filled Journey” printed on it. Andy also told us that they had a donation bucket set up at the main table and flyers all around telling a little about Grace’s story.
We made a hot lap through the show after checking out the
trophies so we could see the nearly 140 vehicles that had made their way to
this year’s show, another record high. I snapped some photos and we talked to
some friends before Grace and Mary took a quick break for a lemonade slushy.
|Mommy wanted to pose by this cool truck because it's green!|
As I kept walking around the grounds of the Centennial Hall, I started talking to one of the car owners, Mike Sahr, whose 1994 Dodge Viper was one of the eye catchers at the show. As we continued to talk, the conversation turned to Grace, which it has a tendency to do these days. Both Mike and his wife, Risé, told me that Grace was in there prayers and enjoyed hearing about our story.
The highlight though was when Mary and Grace came over to
the Viper a few minutes later. Grace was full of smiles and Mike graciously
offered her to let her sit in the driver’s seat for a “test drive”. Before we
left, he made Grace promise that when ever she could drive, she would come find
him so she could take the Viper for a spin.
|Mommy helped Grace take a turn in the driver's seat of a Dodge viper.|
As the show ended, we moved inside for the trophy presentations, where the second big surprise of the day came. After announcing a few raffle winners, Chris started to read off part of Grace’s story. I say started, because he had to get an assist from his sister Miranda to read the rest because he had some trouble. Dana told me that our blog means a lot to them and they are so glad that we have chosen to share our story.
After the presentation, they gave Grace her own trophy with her name on it and the proceeds from the donation bucket, which totaled $130. They then donated an additional $180 from the 50/50, which had been donated back to them by Jeremey Jones.
But that wasn’t it. Chris said that the committee decided
that they wanted to do something more. I turned around and Andy had a giant
check made out to Grace for an additional $500. I was floored. I expected the
trophy and kind of figured that they would have some sort of donation, but
nothing could have prepared me for this.
These kind of things are why I love our community. Without
it, I’m not sure where Mary and I would be on this journey, but I know we are
far more blessed with it. And I’m not talking just about the money, even though
the fact that we have raised more than $40,000 for INAD research is astounding.
I’m talking about the fact that when a member of our community is down, there
is always someone there to pick them up.
I’ve experienced it before, but never on this side of the
fence. Usually Mary and I are the ones helping out, whether it is with publicity
or money or volunteering. It’s kind of weird being on the other side of it, but
in a tremendous way. Saturday was definitely one of those times that we felt
the love of our community and I can’t thank all of our friends at the Waggoner
Car Show enough for that.
|Andy and the Waggoner Car Show committee gave Grace $500 from this year's event.|
|The Farmersville royalty presented Grace with a trophy almost as big as she is!|
|The awesome committee at this year's Waggoner Car Show pose for a photo with our family.|