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Rally car races for HIV/AIDS-affected children

Courtesy of Pete Kuncis

Two rally drivers have turned a 2001 blue Ford Focus into a vehicle for hope.

Ryan Scott and Andrew Frick will use the Focus to raise money and awareness for Camp Sunrise, Ohio’s first and only non-profit camp for HIV/AIDS-affected children, according to the organization’s website.

“We are a grass-roots rally team and we decided to create a team to use our vehicle to raise awareness of different causes,” Scott said.

The idea that began in November is the first of its kind to race for children. The team is anticipating covering every inch of space on its car by selling 1-by-1 inch blocks for $5 each.

“Rather than get little corporation sponsorship, we are trying to get regular people to sponsor us,” Scott said.

Frick drives the car while Scott helps navigate.

Saturday, Frick and Scott raced at the 2011 Sandblast Rally based out of Cheraw, S.C. Frick and Scott’s car placed first in their class, which was open two-wheel drive. They also placed fourth overall, meaning their car was faster than other types of cars, like those with four-wheel drive.

“We’re very pleased at both our results and the fact that the car held together, and we’re looking forward to Mexico,” Scott said.

Both rally drivers are hoping to participate in the World Rally Championship’s Corona Rally Mexico on March 5-7.

“Now we’ve gotta inspect the suspension and engine bay and put about 40 hours of work into making sure everything is OK,” Frick said. “Rally is so rough and unpredictable, you could easily break something and not know it until you take everything apart and check it.”

Frick and Scott hope to use the race in Mexico to help raise money for Camp Sunrise while raising awareness for children who are affected by HIV and AIDS who aren’t part of Camp Sunrise.

“When any child is sick, it’s a terrible thing. What’s really sad is that a kid with leukemia has a good support system, but kids with HIV have little support, and a lot of them live in poverty … they don’t get a lot of encouragement like other kids do,” Scott said. “A kid with HIV has to hide his status in front of people and that’s a heavy burden.”

Cheryl Foley, executive director of Camp Sunrise, said in a press release that the camp was thrilled to partner with Scott and Frick’s Rally Team for Dreams.

Scott and Frick are both excited about racing in Mexico as well.

“It would be incredible. It would be like going from high school football to the Super Bowl,” Frick said.

The World Rally Championship pits cars and drivers in a series of two, three, or four-day events through some of the most varied road conditions, according to the WRC website.

“This is enormous … it’s the second most popular motor sport in the world. … An excess of 300 million people will be watching,” Scott said. “What we are doing is kind of crazy, a local team going against global teams.”

The two must sell 6,000 blocks to be able to reach Mexico in March, and the duo has faced difficulties gaining people’s attention.

“We are still trying to get awareness and get the word out,” Scott said. “No one has a clue we exist.”

As of Feb. 3, the team had raised $1,705, although its minimum fundraising goal is $30,000.

“Right now we’re looking for a corporate sponsor to make it happen,” Scott said.

Whether or not they are able to reach Mexico, the majority of the proceeds will go to Camp Sunrise, Scott said.

“At the end of the day, we are raising awareness for the camp,” he said. “It won’t be in vain, the hundreds of hours invested was all for a good cause.”

Joe Podelco contributed to this story.

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