The month of August has arrived, and with it the annual August Family Foundation’s exhilarating charity event, the OKANAGAN DREAM RALLY. This event pairs luxury sports cars and children (co-pilots) for one fast paced day. Some of these children have themselves received support and care from the same facilities that this event aims to help. I am happy to tell you this fueled my engine in a big way.
I was fortunate to have been able to volunteer, participate as a pilot (driver), and donate one of my paintings in this year’s fundraising event. Let me walk you, or race you, through this incredible experience.
The evening before the rally I attended what is known as the launch party. The fundraising truly revs up here. The streets surrounding the private location are lined with endless luxury supercars. Once inside there are martinis flowing into glasses, parachutists falling from the sky, and numerous items being auctioned off, all to benefit Ronald McDonald House among other community facilities. The auction items range from wild adventure packages featuring private jets, sports and music stars, to fine art works. Among the items being auctioned this evening is one of my paintings. I am grateful to report that all of the Canadian Armed Forces Skyhawk parachutists landed seamlessly on the intended sandy beachfront and not in the swimming pool, and that all of the packages were purchased by the generous pilots and sponsors in attendance. My painting entitled “Where Am I” not only put smiles on the faces of its purchasers but also raised thousands of dollars, all of which goes to this fine charity. The evening’s contributions succeeded in speeding the foundation’s donation total to over one million dollars, all thanks to the August Family Foundation’s dedication and efforts for the worthy causes that they have taken to heart.
Now this is where the fun accelerates, sports cars filled with children. The next morning finds us revving our engines on the downtown streets of Kelowna where we meet our co-pilots. A checkered flag is tightly gripped in the hand of my young co-pilot, Ace, as we follow bumper to exotic bumper down the spectator bursting streets of Kelowna. The smile on Ace’s face makes my heart swell. He has aptly chosen the music that is blasting from my cars stereo system, “We Are the Champions” from the band Queen. As we pull past the last of the huge crowd Ace comments “Well I think that’s as close to famous as I’m ever going to get!” Then I hit the pedal and off we go, the sound of revving Lamborghinis, drowns out the rest of the world and Ace and I are off. The side streets are all blocked with police barricades and we are free to take it from here. The next 45 minutes will zoom past as we ride under sunny skies to the awaiting airport runway in the City of Penticton, where we will have lunch in the hangar. We will be surrounded by every kind of sports car you can envision, military vehicles, fighter jets, parachutists, and most important of all, approximately 250 grinning, happy co-pilots and 250 overwhelmingly grateful pilots!
I cannot begin to tell you what this day means to the co-pilots and to the pilots such as myself. Bonds are formed, impressions are made, minds are expanded, and hearts are filled beyond measure. Thank you August Family Foundation, and thank you to all of the volunteers, pilots and sponsors for your kind support. And thank you to the loved ones of our co-pilots, for entrusting us with your most precious loved ones. Our tanks are full, and we are both humbled and honored.