Successful Rally Across America Poised to go National
Jim Petty and his wife Wendy had been watching the news for two weeks straight and seeing what the pandemic was doing to some of the more challenged communities as the lock-down and quarantine unfolded. He knew there was a stimulus package, but it would dry up pretty quickly. It was going to get tougher before it got better. He wanted to help.
Jim looked at his wife and said, “I want to help, we want to help, but the last thing places like Bridgeport, Bethel, Danbury, and South Norwalk need is another 61-year old guy shoveling mashed potatoes on to a Styrofoam dish.”
What the local communities needed were funds, so how could they make that happen?
How could they start a movement that would make a meaningful difference.
At the same time Jim was also coming to the realization that the car season as we traditionally know it was being cancelled with all the social distancing requirements.
He identified a need, the local communities most severely affected by the pandemic, and he also identified an opportunity to keep the car and motorcycle community from having a dormant season. With his experience as a career retail executive, Jim felt he had a workaround. He would create a short “coffee run”-type rally, like the ones normally occurring all across the country, where people get together to look at each others cars and tell stories and enjoy the camaraderie. But he would keep the numbers down, so social distancing could be better observed. The idea was for an invitation-only run with a 25-car limit, in Fairfield County, CT. Each car would donate a minimum of $100.00 that would go to local communities that have been affected by COVID-19. He was sure he could get some interest.
Using an old mailing list from the Alden Sherman Classic Car show, Jim sent out an email blast. The concept of a Rally Across America was explained. Jim wanted the proceeds of each rally to go to and benefit the communities near where the rally occurred. The recipients of the monies raised would be decided by the coordinator of each local rally. The response was immediate and overwhelming. The consensus was a resounding yes. People wanted to do something like this. Jim also connected with some of the heavy hitters in the local car community, Frank Taylor and Bill Scheffler to help with the organization and logistics.
It would have a very local feeling, but could be replicated on a national basis. Jim was creating a Rally-in-a-box concept. Jim did some quick math. With 50 states, if each state on average did 8.25 car rallies during the car season, numbers would roll up quickly to a million dollars. That’s a nice number that Jim felt could be doable.
On June 7th the first rally kicked off from the Weston, CT High School and it was a great success. They were hoping to raise $2,500.00 and they blew right past that and raised $4,150.00 for the cause. They received amounts from the minimum up to $500.00. And they project that rallies like this across the country will have the same experience.
The idea is bare bones rally that focuses on the love of involvement with automobiles and motorcycles and the desire to help local communities in need, that is the mission of Rally Across America. And each rally will comply with all social distancing guidelines and protocols.
Each Rally Master will line up their participants, choose their charity, execute the rally and deliver the funds directly to the chosen local charities.
With no arm bending they got sponsorship and participation from Hagerty (who will help out with other versions of the rally in other states across the country), Sloan Motorcars, Automotive Restorations Inc., Gaswerks Garage, American Motorcar, Cafe Racers which is chaired by Judy Stropus, The Small Car Company and The Pray Foundation but are hoping to get larger sponsors to help with the national outreach.
This is not one and done, the idea is to set this up as an annual philanthropic strategy to have the car community help give back to the communities around them.
There are people chomping at the bit, ready to participate in and create similar rallies around the country.
If you have the urge to create one of these rallies yourself, get in touch with Frank Taylor at [email protected]