Foundation’s EAC Facilitates Hands-On Therapy, With This

One-Of-One Authorized 2017 HURST Jeepster Commando Build


The immaculate – and impressively modified –  Jeep Wrangler pictured here is a full-circle culmination of a concept the Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer has periodically used to benefit its cause: create a custom vehicle with a whole lot of help from gracious benefactors, use it as a promotional tool to increase awareness about the foundation and then auction the vehicle to raise much-needed funds.

This HURST Jeep has followed that template, albeit with some tweaks. Thanks to the foundation’s Educational Advancement Center (EAC) and its innovative Industrial Arts Program, this build-out is an inside job.

Young cancer patients who benefit from the foundation’s free services turned the wrenches themselves during the first half of this year, transforming the new Jeep Wrangler into a modern-day, One-of-One authorized, HURST Jeepster Commando. The original classic 1960s-early 1970s Jeep produced a cult-like following  before being taken out of production. That following lives on, in the form of Jeepster enthusiast organizations.

Enthusiasts have to love this reimagined Jeepster for its looks and, more so, for how those looks were achieved. After all, children involved in the EAC’s Industrial Art Program created thise One-Of-One 2017 HURST Jeepster Commando2017 Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited Hurst Edition.

It’s beautiful. So is the back story.

Austin Hatcher Osborn's, namesake of the Foundation, father, Jim Osborn, used to own a Hurst Jeepster Commando back in the 70’s when

they were new.  In fact, Austin Hatcher’s great-grandfather, John Baxter Hatcher, owned a Jeep dealership in Athens, TN. -

Hatcher Pontiac/Cadillac/JEEP.


For this project, Mtn. View Auto Group, donated the brand new Jeep for the project.  Rugged Ridge, which develops and sells Jeep parts and accessories for the Jeep and off-road enthusiast market, donated parts for the transformation. (Rugged Ridge is a division of Omix-ADA, the market-leader for replacement and restoration Jeep parts.) Truck N’ Trailers USA of Chattanooga provided work space along with lift capability and plenty of tools.


The Austin Hatcher Foundation, normally in the business of providing hope, this time provided kids. And so it proceeded, with Saturday build-out sessions where work morphed into fun – and a whole lot more.

Hatcher Dealership late 50's - early 60's
John Baxter Hatcher (Austin's Great-Grandfather)
Hatcher Dealership Billboard

The foundation’s Industrial Arts Program can be equated to what would be called “shop class” in a normal school setting, with the standard benefits of introducing children to the basics of home repair, manual craftsmanship and machine safety. At the EAC, however, the setting is anything but normal and those basics are enhanced to the benefit of both the young patients and their family members. Accent is on developing and improving family and team-building skills; treating and improving coordination deficits resulting from cancer treatments; and treating and improving behavioral, memory and learning deficits resulting from treatments that affect both a child and their family.


In effect, this project has meshed old with new. The tried-and-true, build-out concept the foundation has utilized in the past is a perfect fit for the EAC.


“This was a brilliant plan,” wrote Tyler Coolidge on the Rugged Ride website, at “While there were likely some tough build days, they are not nearly as tough as the kids who’ve fearlessly tackled them and found ways to laugh and smile through the entire process.”


 “This is exactly the type of thing where the benefits of the EAC and the Industrial Arts program can be maximized,” said Foundation President Amy Jo Osborn. “First and foremost, our children are getting the ultimate hands-on experience on working on the Jeep. We also expect that the project’s positive overall impact on the foundation will be immense. The ability to get involved in projects like this is what makes the work being done at the EAC so vital.”


Since the build was completed, Rugged Ridge has had the Jeep on a promotional tour, appearing at various automotive shows and other events. Then, on Sept. 20-21, it will be displayed at the MEDCO trade show in Philadelphia. (MEDCO is North America’s largest combined tool

and equipment wholesaler in the automotive aftermarket.) After that, the Jeep returns home to the Austin Hatcher Foundation. 

The Jeep will be auctioned off in Dallas at the Leake Auction the week of November 15, 2018 with proceeds benefiting the Austin Hatcher Foundation


“At the trade show we will really be able to promote our Industrial Arts Program, the EAC and a partnership with MEDCO,” Osborn said. “We’re going to show that the tools the kids have used on the build were not only for work but for therapy, as well.


“And we would love to continue these sorts of projects. We already have proposals in the works, and are looking for corporate partners. This is something we were talking about in 2017. In 2018 we’ve done it. And now, we want to keep doing it. This is a ‘Win-win” because a lot of companies, such as Rugged Ridge, have their own vehicles they use for marketing purposes. We can get our children involved in other projects like this that could also end with an auction to benefit the foundation.”

Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer 

232 East 11th Street, Suite 100, Chattanooga, TN  37402  

phone: 423.243.3471    fax: 423-498-3581