Thanks to the kind hearts of Tim and Sandy Bowman, Joy Ranch Home For Children accepted one of the biggest donations in the Christian home’s 52-year history on Thursday, a check for $33,135.
Tim Bowman, who owns Blue Ridge Truck and Trailer in Mount Airy, N.C., came up with an idea to raise money for the Woodlawn facility in January. He approached Bryan Marion, organizer of the Autumn Leaves Festival Car Show in Mount Airy, about donating his 1955 Chevy to give away as a ticket raffle during the annual October event.
“We were at an auction in Kissimmee, Florida and he told me he had a great idea. He said he would like to do a fundraiser in conjunction with the Autumn Leaves Car Show, which I put on every year. He said he wanted to donate something, sell tickets and give 100 percent of the money to Joy Ranch. When he started talking about it, I said, ‘It’s not a great idea, It’s an awesome idea. I am in,’” Marion said. “At first, Tim had an idea to start with a motorcycle and he said, ‘Forget that, let’s do the ’55 Chevy.’ He took it out of his personal collection and said, ‘Here is the car. Let’s do it. You don’t owe me nothing.’”
Marion said the fundraiser began in May, and as the year progressed it was given the name Joy Ranch Give-A-Way Car. Tickets were purposely set low at $5 each, Marion said, in hopes of getting many people to take part. In total, more than 6,000 tickets were sold before the Oct. 12 giveaway.
“Tim and his wife are responsible for this,” Marion said. “I just donated time and my family’s help and we made it part of the car show. Tim and Sandy came up with this idea and we took it and ran with it.”
Marion, who owns Bryan Marion Motorsports, organizes the Autumn Leaves Festival Car Show. He was touched by another event that unfolded during this year’s event. Another fundraiser was held for Roger Stevens, of Westfield, N.C., who is battling cancer. A 50/50 fundraiser drawing held to benefit Stevens raised $1,300 and was won by Dan Beseth of Pilot Mountain, N.C.
“And he turned around and donated his half back,” Marion said. “It just goes to show there are some big hearts out there.”
Bowman, of Ararat, said he got the idea from a similar fundraiser during the late 1990s when Ranson Chevrolet gave away a pickup truck and donated about $40,000 to Joy Ranch.
“I thought it was pretty cool, but nobody ever did it again. It was something that just got cold and I wanted to try to get it started back up,” Bowman said. “It seemed like it was a big thing then and just sort of went away. I just wanted to make more people aware about Joy Ranch, so it was just something I said I wanted to try to head up.”
But Bowman and those heading up the fundraiser found the going very slow in the beginning. In fact, Bowman said the weekend the fundraiser was unveiled was the same weekend a fundraiser scandal took place in Mount Airy. That weekend, a woman thought she had won a raffle for a 2013 Limited Edition Fiat. The woman claims she was then told she must toss a Frisbee through both car windows from a distance of about 90 feet to claim her prize. According to media reports, the woman never received the car, and a Dobson man was later charged for obtaining property by false pretense in the case.
“It was a long, dry spell for about six weeks after that. For about six weeks it was like trying to give away a three-legged puppy,” Bowman said. “It was hard to give a ticket away. I thought it would be a piece of cake. Well, it wasn’t. Halfway through, I thought if we could sell 75 to 80 percent we would be doing good. But we ended up selling them and I am just glad we didn’t have any problems.”
Joy Ranch’s Brent Carrick said the kindness of the Bowmans and those who helped with the benefit have been tremendous for the non-profit home.
“It’s just been phenomenal, not just the money, but the exposure. They have been going to several events and the awareness and exposure it has created for us has been incredible,” Carrick said. “Even when someone wanted to buy a full book of tickets, they would tell them to make the check out to Joy Ranch. It was one of the truly 100 percent raffles where the organizers didn’t take out anything. We’ve been doubly blessed by it.”