Rhodes’ loved ones ready to get down and dirty for his cause

ROSSITER — When bad news comes one's way, that individual is faced with a choice: to sulk or to make the most of the time and resources he or she has in the situation.

This past May, Terry Rhodes was diagnosed with bladder cancer, and now he is in the final stages of the life-threatening illness.

Some of those closest to Rhodes were forced to make a decision, and they chose to make the most of the time they had with Terry and to hold a benefit doing something they enjoy most: Mud drag racing.

The event will take place this Saturday, beginning at 1 p.m. at the I Got This! course, 858 Gaston Rd., Rossiter.

Nate DeHaven, who is one of the organizers of the benefit event, said it came as a natural idea to have a benefit that can put a positive spin on a very negative situation.

"We've had these sorts of races that we call "I Got This!" races in Rossiter for about five years now," DeHaven said. "We have an obstacle course through the woods, too. But in the last year, we've started doing the drag races. The course is about 150 feet long. It's not a mud bog, because the mud's not really super deep. It's deep enough to make it fun, though."

Rhodes' daughter, Michele Trayer, is also one of the ones organizing the event, and she said it was something that came naturally to them as an idea to help raise funding for the family to defer medical costs.

"He was just diagnosed in May of this year, and he's at the point where there is no treatment that will help," she said. "So, we're just trying to do all we can to make the most out of it."

In addition to the proceeds going to the cause of helping Rhodes' family, Trayer also added that some of the proceeds will be given to the hospice organizations for their dedication and help in caring for her father.

"My sister and I are so appreciative of what the hospice folks are doing," she said. "So, anything we can give to them, we're going to because we think it's such a good thing that they're doing."

DeHaven said he's been a part of I Got This! races for some time, and he wanted to be sure that folks knew that he and the other organizers take safety at the track very seriously, as the event is geared to be a family-friendly one.

"It's family-friendly for sure," he said. "That's always the case. We go out of our way to make sure it's safe for the kids who want to come out, too. There is a guardrail and fencing, and the people aren't allowed anywhere near the track. That way we can make sure that everyone stays safe. It's something that's fun to watch, but you can watch from a distance. A lot of folks aren't familiar with this kind of event, but we've never had anyone even come close to being hurt. We focus on safety and do the best we can to stay on top of those sorts of things."
DeHaven said some of the inspiration for the event came from the success the organizers had with a similar event held last year: one to benefit a young girl, Kadie Stonebraker, who was also battling cancer and has since passed away.

"Terry's been down to the races a couple of times," DeHaven said. "We did a benefit for Kadie Stonebraker last year, and it turned out pretty good. So, I figured this would be a good way to raise some money for Terry and his family, because we usually get a pretty good turnout."

One thing that DeHaven promised for the event: fun.

"We're just trying to get the word out," he said. "It's for a good cause, and it's a family thing. This is something we all started doing years ago, and it's grown a bit since then. But it's just something that's fun to do."

Typically, the participants at I Got This! will race other vehicles in certain classes, DeHaven said. But Trayer said the nature of this event will be a bit different. It'll be grudge match style.

"Basically, that day we'll have grudge matches," she said, with DeHaven elaborating. "We usually have classes, but it's going to be whoever wants to run can run," he said. "It can be street trucks, cars, whatever you’d like. We had a lot of big horsepower trucks show up last time, and it was a good show. It's something to do for the day, and it's definitely interesting."

In addition to the event — which has a $10 dollar admission fee for spectators and drivers that includes one free menu item and a drink — there will be other fundraisers taking place as well, including a silent auction and additional food for purchase.

Another interesting element to attract the spectators is the addition of a ramp travel index (R.T.I.) ramp, which judges competitors' vehicles on their ability to withstand tests to the suspension.

"If you have a lifted truck, you can climb the ramp, and the scores are calculated by feet and degrees," DeHaven said. "The higher you can go, the better score you get, and it tests how good the suspension works when it comes to flexing."

Trayer also added that in light of the family-friendly nature, there will be plenty of games, door prizes and raffles for the kids.

The poster for the event says the "mud starts to fly" at 1 p.m., and Dehaven and Trayer said the event will go on as long as the interest remains.

"It starts a 1 p.m., but it should be an all-day thing," DeHaven said. "We might even stay into the night if folks want to."

For more information, DeHaven encourages interested parties to contact him at 814-952-1425, and he invites everyone to come out and see exactly what I Got This! racing is all about in the spirit of helping Rhodes' cause.