On Saturday, Oct. 12, the Banzai Cruisers held the organization’s second “Pieced Together Car, Truck and Motorcycle Show” to raise money for autism awareness and benefit a local child diagnosed with autism. The event, organized by JR Hendrickson and his fiancé Leanna Mosley, has been held two years in a row and each time has benefited a local child.
“I got the pleasure to be able to help my fiancé with it,” said Mosley, explaining that Hendrickson has always enjoyed caring for others. “He has always taken care of people with mental issues, and autism is close to his heart, especially in children. He has a really big heart for it.”
The group, Mosley said, plans to hold the event annually in hopes of helping as many children and families as they can.
“Having a mental disorder is very expensive. There are things that come with it like therapists and doctors and so on,” said Mosley, stating that they hope to alleviate some of that stress for the families.
This year’s event was held to help the family of Mason Bowling purchase a service dog. Mason, a five-year-old child from Tennessee, has been diagnosed with high functioning autism and a genetic chromosome disorder called “16p13.11 deletion.”
“Mason is trying to raise $25,000 for a service dog, and they began this journey in the beginning of December of last year,” said Mosley. “Generally it takes three years to raise that money for the dogs, because they are so expensive. Mason’s mom has worked her tail off getting this money.”
Mason’s mother had saved up and raised money for months, and nearly had enough, so the group wanted to help them reach the goal.
Mosley said that the event faced a few challenges this year, but was still able to turn out successfully with approximately 60 vehicles entering in the contest and many more people attending the show.
“We usually have it at Perry Central (High School), but that fell through this year,” said Mosley, explaining that the group moved the event to the park just two days before the car show. “It was a little rough on everybody.”
Additionally, she said, weather related issues arose.
“The weather was horrible as it was last year. Freezing cold, but everybody still came out and supported us, which was for a good cause,” said Mosley.
Mosley and Hendrickson said that they are thankful for all the support shown by not only the Perry County community, but other areas too, as well as the mini trucking community. People showed up from other states including North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana and more. Lee Caudill, of the Appalachian Car Show DJ Services, was a huge supporter in the event, said Mosley, as was their food vendor, 2-Broke-Girls, who donated 20 percent of the food profits to Mason’s cause.
During the car show, the Banzai Cruisers were able to raise $1,652 for Mason, said Mosley, stating that afterwards Mason was just $462.32 short of his goal.
On Monday, Oct. 14, Mosley said Mason’s mother contacted the Banzai Cruisers and informed them that Mason received a $500 donation, so now the family will be able to purchase Mason’s service dog. Although he hasn’t been matched with a dog yet, Mason, Mosley said, has already picked out a name for his future dog and is looking forward to having a best friend. “He is so excited,” said Mosley.
The group, Mosley said, still has T-shirts available for sale from the event, and all money will be used to benefit Mason or the child selected for next year’s fundraiser.