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giving a little back

Its not often you get to make a complete stranger happy.

During the last round of the ARC (Victoria) a young boy cheered on competitors as they drove past his family home. Cameron along with his brother Ben both have cerebral palsy, cerebral palsy is a disorder which affects a persons ability to move,  it is a permanent life-long condition, Cameron is wheelchair bound which obviously makes it difficult to do a lot of things, let alone attend a rally and move around on dirt.

The ARC website received a letter from Cameron’s father Bruce, below is that letter:

To everyone who competed at or officiated at Rally Victoria you made one spectator very happy…..

To whom it may concern, 

I am the father of the young guy in the wheelchair who you saw on the roadside at Drouin West over the weekend. His name is Cameron and he has cerebral palsy. Because of his disability he cannot partake in many activities. He does, however, spend a lot of time on his Playstation, and one of his favourite games is World Rally Championship. From this, and other rally games, he has developed a passion for rally cars and was determined to make the most of his opportunities on the weekend. Last year he wouldn’t even come in for lunch in case he missed a car. This year we checked when the stages were being run and managed to convince him to take a couple of breaks.

To all of you who stopped to talk to him, give him a memento, tooted him, signed the poster, or just waved to him, I would like you to know that you made a young man very happy indeed. Despite his long day outside he struggled to get to sleep, such was his excitement. He will be talking about it for months and has already asked how long until next year’s rally! My family and I would like to express our gratitude and heartfelt thanks to all of you for your kindness and thoughtfulness. Maybe next year we’ll come out to Lardner Park to meet you, but I think it will be very hard to get him away from the roadside!

Best wishes to you all for Christmas, and good luck for next year.

For whatever reason I have become somewhat humble in the life I lead and the job I have, I am fortunate enough to be doing something I love and get to travel to some amazing places and see some amazing things, I have come to the realisation that giving back is what is most important, after reading Bruce’s letter I set out to do something and give a little back.

I am lucky enough to be friends with the best printer in the business, Nigel is also the biggest rally nut I know, he also happens to be a bit of an alright rally photographer and travels the country covering the ARC as well, he also happens to be an all around nice guy.

The goal was to get a photo of Cameron’s favourite rally drivers, have them printed on canvas and have the ARC driver sign it. After speaking with Cameron’s father, it just happened to be Eli Evans and Sebastien Loeb, by sheer coincidence I am also good friends with the Citroen WRC Teams Official photographer, Andre Lavadinho, it took all of a quick email and Andre had sent through 20 of his best Loeb shots, so now we are up to two prints.

What else could we do? well lets see, I did work with the Honda Rally Team for the past two years. I approached Eli about the possibilities of Cameron and his family visiting the workshop, as you can imagine this was no problem for Eli, Jesse and the Evans Motorsport Team. Now we have two prints, one signed by Eli and a visit to the workshop to see the cars in person, I then made the decision to make the trip to Melbourne and meet the family and do this blog entry, before I get in to that and how the visit went the giving didn’t stop.

Cameron’s story has touched quite a few people in the rally community, Rus Taylor, Mick Patton and a few key people are now working together to create a playstation simulator for Cameron, with a racing seat, harness, Go Pro, custom Cameron Motorsport Embroidery and anything to make it as safe and real for Cameron as possible.

The rally community shocks me all the time, I knew how everyone operated and banded together when needed, from parts, to silly putty for holes in oil sumps 😉 to welding machines and spare gearboxes for their competitors, but this has topped it all, to give back to someone less fortunate let alone a stranger just shows what great people are involved in this sport.

Enough rambling (i tend to do that :)), like I said, I visited Cameron’s family before we went to the workshop, I wanted to grab some shots and meet his family and see Cameron’s face light up when he got to the workshop.

Cameron is without a doubt a Rally tragic 😉 he loves playing his playstation and the WRC Rally game with his brother Ben, who is always by his side cheering him on.

Cameron is 13 and his life will forever be in a wheelchair, he attends a special school which his parents say is fantastic for him, the school is able to give Cameron the special attention he needs, Ben on the other hand is able to attend public school, he is 18 and doesnt have the same level of disability as Cameron, he even plays soccer.

Cameron’s parents are the most lovely people, they may have been struck with the unlucky stick but I think to them they feel blessed to have two boys who are just so full of life, its hard not to laugh and smile when you are in their presence.  What a great family, with both boys having cerebral palsy it makes life difficult for Bruce and Jenine, but they make the boys lives that much easier and happier, they also have so much support from their local community, from a daily service which assists in getting the boys ready for school each morning to raising the $125,000 needed to have the custom VW Van made for Cameron, it makes their lives just that little bit easier to cope  with everything.

So, after a quick visit to the family home where Cameron and Ben showed me their skills on the WRC Rally game we drove the 30km back to the Evans Motorsport workshop to give Cameron his prints, meet Eli, see the Honda Rally Cars in person and see the progress of the racing seat simulator which was being built.

‘WOW’, the first words out of Cameron’s mouth, his excitment and happiness was infectious, he was in heaven, rally heaven, he threw question after question at Jesse the Evans Motorsport head mechanic and he absolutely loved the simulator that Rus had fabricated, it wasn’t easy getting him out of it, then his favourite rally driver arrived, Cameron it seemed became just a little star struck, (i dont know why 🙂 ), through-out the day Cameron was vocal, laughing, talking a lot, when Eli arrived he went very quiet, the two talked rally cars and Eli showed Cameron around the Honda Rally car, it was then time to hand over the two prints, as soon as Eli handed them over you could see it on Cameron’s face, he was so overwhelmed, it was just all to much for this young guy, you could see it in his face, he just couldn’t believe people where doing all this for him, he was speechless, he loved both the prints, especially the Eli signed one with the helicopter.

It was soon time to go, Melbourne was having one of its heatwaves so everyone needed to get back to a cool place, as the CamVan (Camerons VW Van) pulled away those that where there agreed what an amazing boy and family and what an amazing community to get together and bring some joy to a family, I dont think Cameron or his families lives will be the same.

A huge thanks to everyone involved, in particular, Andre, Nigel, Katie, Eli, Jesse, Rus, Mick, Simon, Camerons family and the entire Rally Community.