Donation of 1955 Chevy raises $33,000 for Joy Ranch

By Allen Worrell Civitas Media

October 20, 2013

Joy Ranch Home For Children accepted one of the biggest donations in the Christian home’s 52-year history on Thursday, a check for $33,000 courtesy of an Ararat, Va., couple, Tim and Sandy Bowman.

Tim Bowman, who owns Blue Ridge Truck and Trailer in Mount Airy, 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, Fla., 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 and 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 set 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 run 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, 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.

“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, Va., 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.”

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.”