Last weekend I hosted a Camaro meet at a Wally's Drive-In, in Buckley, Washington. It was a follow-up to an impromptu Camaro "meet and eat" I had put together last Summer at the same location. Originally an informal gathering; just a few people who had seen my posting on C5, some existing friends and some new people that would become my friends. About 25 cars in all. But there was one anomaly that stood out from that original gathering: Of the 25 Camaros that came, 8 were Synergy Green Metallic. (Mine included.) We took photographs that became a big hit on the internet.
So when I decided I wanted to repeat the event this year, not surprisingly, I wanted to try and make it bigger. Not only did I want to shoot for a bigger turnout, but I also wanted to assemble the "Synergy Squadron" again. And of course I wanted to make that bigger too.
Now the whole idea of getting a large number of statistically rare colored Camaros together seemed like a lot of fun. But aside from making for a cool photograph, it also seemed kind of trivial on the scheme of things. I felt like I needed more of a reason. A purpose. Then I hit on an idea. I realized people did all kinds of silly, fun things, all the time to raise money for charity; like dress up as pirates, or wear Moroccan headgear while driving around in ridiculously tiny cars. Why couldn't we get green Camaros together to raise money for a good cause?
My next step was to find that cause. I didn't have to go far. With Army, Navy, and Air Force installations all located in this area of the Puget Sound, many of our local Camaro brethren are currently serving, have served, or have family serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. We also have a large Army medical facility, Madigan Army Hospital located here. And adjacent to that hospital, there is a Fisher House.
Fisher House is described as a "home away from home" for families of military personnel who are undergoing treatment at any of a number of military medical installations around the world. It allows the families to be close to their loved ones when they are needed most, without having to worry about how they are going to pay for lodging at a time when they might be least able to afford it, or when they really have much more important things to worry about.
With such strong connections to the military, and the strong sense of community that local Camaro owners often exhibit, I knew this was a perfect match. With the date chosen, all the arrangements made for the venue, and contact made with Fisher House Foundation, I figured I was all set. I was slightly mistaken.
I had no experience in charitable fundraising. Luckily for me, I had friends, and my wife to make up for what I lacked. As the day of the event drew ever nearer, they jumped into action, and began soliciting donations from local businesses for a raffle. Items began to roll in. My wife (Dragonlady) even sidetracked the Fbodfather himself at a local car show to see if he could help. As soon as she had finished explaining what we were doing, the Blackberry appeared so fast in his hand, it's as if it came from nowhere. We received an email offering assistance from Chevrolet, before the weekend was out!
I was a little nervous when the day arrived, gloomy and overcast after a whole week of sunshine. But the Camaros came, and the clouds broke. We finished the day with a best count of 67 Camaros. The raffle went very well, exceeding our donation goal. And the original 8 SGMs from last year returned, along with 5 new ones for a total of 13 Synergy Green Metallic Camaros!
Yet with all the big things that went right that day, there was one small thing that happened, that for me outshined everything else.
A couple days before the meet, my wife contacted an old co-worker friend she had not seen in some time on an unrelated matter. In the course of catching up with what had been going on since she had last spoke to him, she discovered he had not been doing so well.
For some unknown reason, he had begun to lose weight at an alarming rate. Medical tests had revealed nothing, and doctors were at a complete loss to explain what was happening to him. The weight loss had progressed to a point that he was beginning to lose muscle tissue, and without any options to offer him, a doctor had advised that he might want to get his affairs in order.
He mentioned to my wife that his six year old son was really into Camaros, and that he would like it if his son could see our Camaro up close. Dragonlady told him she could do one better, all he had to do is show up at our gathering on Saturday, and she would have a real Bumblebee there for him to see.
On Saturday morning, our friend (Jayhawk500) and his wife had just arrived. They had driven all the way up from the coast of Oregon to join us. While there are a few yellow Camaro owners that act a little annoyed with the whole "Bumblebee" thing, and the fascination that children have with it, Jayhawk500 has embraced it. He installed an audio system that plays sound clips from Transformers, and can activate it with a key fob remote. When the car is parked, and children go flocking to it, he will fish the remote from his pocket and presss the button. The reaction of the kids is priceless!
Knowing this, Dragonlady brought her friend and his son right over as soon as they arrived. I was lucky enough to be there to catch some pictures. They truly speak for themselves.
I had a moment to speak with the father a while later. I couldn't help but inquire about his condition. I was hoping for some glimmer of hope beyond what my wife had told me. Perhaps some direction that the doctors had yet to explore that might lead to some good news. But it was almost the same as what my wife had relayed to me. I admitted that I couldn't even imagine what he was going through. He said it was especially hard on the little one. I looked down and noticed his son frowning and beginning to squirm at his side, and realized he understood more than I had given him credit for. I quickly changed the subject.
Later in the day was the drawing for the raffle. One of the donated items in the raffle was a small RC Camaro, yellow and black, just like Bumblebee. I would find out later that my wife's friend had bought a number of raffle tickets, and placed them in the cup for the RC car, in a bid to win it for his son. His ticket was not drawn. It was won by one of our Camaro friends who goes by Mya May.
Now I don't know how much Mya May knew about how hard he had tried to win the car, but I do know that she had no idea of the uncertainty that was hanging over their lives. Knowing these people as I do, what she did next did not really surprise me, but it made me feel pretty good about the people I choose to hang around with. She walked over to the little boy and handed him the car. Somebody that knew what was happening managed to grab my arm and get me to shoot these pictures as it unfolded. The faces say it all.
The next day, my wife's friend sent her an email to thank her for the invite. In it was this picture, with this caption:
It hasnt left his side since she gave it to him, he sets it up so he can fall asleep looking at it
Camaro lore tells that the name was discovered in last minute desperation in an old copy of Heath's French-to-English Dictionary
. In case you've ever wondered, and didn't already know, Camaro means "friend". For me, that's just one of a long string of chance happenings in the Camaro story, and my story, that seem more like fate. No word seems more appropriate for this amazing car than friend. I have regarded my Camaro more as a friend than as an object. It was a chance happening that put us in the posession of the Camaro that we have now. That Camaro led us to the multitudes of new friends that we have made along the way. Passionate people whose cars evoke emotion. Many of those friends came together in one place on Saturday- the right place, the right time. And their friendship and generosity provided a happy moment for a boy and his father at a time when they really needed it.
I don't know how this story will end. No one does. But I do know my friends made a happy memory for a little boy, that he can reach out and touch whenever he needs to.
And he has his own new friend that will be watching over him as he falls asleep tonight.
(OP update 8/17/13: Be sure to read this post: http://www.camaro5.com/forums/showpo...3&postcount=43
It's written by the boy's father, Tim.
Update 9/4/13: Some promising news: http://www.camaro5.com/forums/showpo...8&postcount=95
I highly recommend reading all of the other responses too, some of them are by the people I have mentioned in my account.)