Article by: Tyler Coolidge
Training Tomorrow’s Heroes
“Anyone who does anything to help a child in their life is a hero to me.” ― Fred Rogers
When it comes to turning wrenches on a Jeep, too many people would write it off as dirty, knuckle-busting work. While this conclusion is more than substantiated, it fully dismisses the larger truth that hard work, and in this case mechanical work, can be nothing short of good medicine.
In the foothills of southern Tennessee, there is an organization that really “gets it”. The Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer has made it their mission to not only erase the effects of childhood cancer but to optimize the quality of life for these kids as they experience the impact of diagnosis and as they brave the trials of their ongoing treatment. The Foundation has found a way to give these kids and their families a valuable tool with which to fight those daily battles- best of all, it’s a tool that already lies within them. They only need to learn how to access it and perfect its usage. In my opinion, what better subject with which to develop their craft than on a Jeep.
While the Jeep seemed a perfect blank canvas for Hatch’s Kids to practice their magic on, it’s not every day that a brand new Wrangler JKU lands in your lap either, at least not in the real world. Fortunately, the fine folks at the Mtn. View Auto Group see things a little bit differently. They jumped in and fired-up a brand-spanking new Wrangler, hopped on the freeway and dropped it on their doorstep…literally. It still had the paper floor mats in it. But not for long.
The Austin Hatcher Foundation’s goal was to transform this bone-stock JK into a modern interpretation of the classic Jeepster Commando, an early-70’s rarity that added popular muscle car styling to the time-honored CJ persona. Rugged Ridge donated pile upon pile of parts to accomplish this massive undertaking while Truck ‘N Trailers USA provided enough shop space, lift and tools to build a space shuttle. And to top it off, they’ll accomplish this task with manpower sourced from the families that they serve on a daily basis. Yes…they’re gonna build this beast with kids.
It was a brilliant plan whose full perfection would not be realized simply or quickly, but through a series of scheduled “Build Days”. Days that were carefully planned to insure success with a project checklist for all to see. A list detailing what needed to be accomplished that day and providing a visual reminder of the team’s successes as items are checked off. While these 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.
And now, with all those pesky words out of the way…bask in the glory of Hatch’s Kids building a super-sweet 2017 Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited Hurst Edition. It doesn’t get any cooler than this
So let’s hear it for the Austin Hatcher Foundation family and the outstanding influence this project has had in the lives of these young people. Be sure to keep any eye out for this beauty making appearances at automotive events over the upcoming year. It is possibly half-as-cool as the kids that built it but still way cooler than most anything else on the street.