By Courtney Renee
For five years, local Pahrump Valley Speedway racers have supported the community through a Touch-A-Truck fundraiser for Family to Family Connections, which took place March 2 at the Orleans casino parking lot in Las Vegas.
The Bomber Nation and JC Motorsports brought out their vehicles to allow children in the community to experience what it is like to be inside a race car. In fact, to attend the charity event, The Bomber Nation didn’t go to the Pahrump Valley Speedway to compete on race day.
JJ Nunn, typically drives the 33 car. He wasn’t fazed by missing a race.
“We look forward to this every year. We can race another day. Touch- a -Truck happens once a year, we have our priorities straight. There is no other place that myself or the JC Motorsports team would rather be. It could have been a championship night and we wouldn’t have been there. That’s how important this is for us,” Nunn said.
The Bomber Nation looks forward to the event every year and spends many hours of their time preparing to give the best show for the children.
“We start preparing for this, months in advance. We register with Family to Family Connections, clean the cars up, get the team organized and involved and make sure the cars are safe for the kids to get in them. Everything has to be secure for the kids to enjoy,” Nunn said.
For Nunn, helping support families who may not be as privileged and children who may not be as developed, is personal.
“My nephew had a learning disability, teachers told him he needed special education and would never go to college. He graduated from Cobleskill University and now runs one of the top 10 nurseries in Long Island New York,” Nunn explained as tears welled in his eyes.
However, Nunn explained that bringing the cars and helping the children get an experience they will always remember, is all about the kids.
“The motivation is giving back to the community, we love the kids and as a race team JC Motorsports and The Bomber Nation gets a lot from the community,” Nunn said.
Shannon Bilbray-Axelrod of Family to Family Connection helps ensure the event runs fairly smoothly. Reaching out to Pahrump racers was something that she believes would make Touch-A-Truck that much more special.
“We are looking for diversity and more things for the kids to get interested in and the kids love The Bomber Nation. They had a line all day, including repeat customers. They have groupies,” explained Axelrod.
The charity’s motivation is to run an event friendly for all people. There is a “horn-free” hour and a half for children sensitive to loud noises and attractions for everyone.
“We have that first horn-free hour and a half for those kids who are sensitive to loud noises, and you never know how kids are going to react. We are aware and we try to make it available to all people in the community,” Axelrod said.The event has grown exponentially in its nine years.
According to Axelrod, the numbers were bigger than anticipated.
“It started out small in a local school parking lot and developed now to over 100 trucks with well into 6,000 attendees. We get bigger every year and want to continue the diversity,” Axelrod said.
Touch-A-Truck is already very diverse with a variety of different trucks and attractions. From the Bomber Nation to Robo-saurus a giant robot dinosaur that rips a car in half to helicopters, the event had something for everyone.
Axelrod is already contemplating the future.
“Robo-saurus was a pretty big hit this year and for years we talked about the monster truck event that starts in March, and trying to get some monster trucks for next year. It’s not always trucks either. We typically have a hot air balloon that sits on its side and they let the kids run through it. We try to get as much diversity as possible,” explained Axelrod.
Axelrod, much like Nunn, also has a personal connection with Family to Family Connection and Touch-A-Truck.
“I found Family to Family Connections after the birth of my own child and I came down with Mastitis because I was breast feeding incorrectly. My first outing with my 2-day old daughter was Family to Family Connection. They were there when I needed them most,” Axelrod said.
All proceeds from Touch-A-Truck stay with Family to Family Connections to help local families. They raised roughly one-third of their budget for the year with this single event.