BY VICKI TERWILLIGER
Two Montgomery County men thought something needed to change when it came to finding support for an Autism charity.
That’s when event coordinators Shawn McNally and Liam Dolan launched their first “Coal Pit Crusade for Autism” last year.
Finding success, the friends have continued the effort this year with the second annual event scheduled for this weekend at the Famous Reading Outdoors, at 2 E. Darkwater Road, Pottsville.
It’s a chance for drivers of Jeeps, 4-by-4 vehicles, quads, side-by-sides and dirt bikes to get their wheels in the mud while raising money for a worthy cause.
“For trying something new, it was really overwhelming,” McNally, of Collegeville, said of the inaugural support. The crusade raised $33,000 last year for Autism awareness and drew at least 450 Jeeps and 2,000 people.
Their original concept was to hold the event and raise funds for different causes each year, starting with “A” for Autism, and continuing through the alphabet, with worthwhile causes.
However, event supporters saw there was still need to raise funds to benefit Autism causes. All proceeds this year will benefit the Hallman-Haines Foundation for Autism & Spina Bifida.
“There really wasn’t very much out there for Autism,” McNally, who’s general manager of Jeff Daniels Jeep Customizing in Harleysville, said.
He and Dolan, of Gilbertsville, said they found out about the Famous Reading Outdoors site from a dirt bike club. They liked the area so much they approached the owner about holding the event at the 10,000 acre site.
McNally expects riders from Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, New Jersey and Maryland to be among the thousands participating. Gates open to campers from 3 to 11 p.m. Friday.
Registration and group assignments kick off from 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday. A trail meeting and introductions and announcements with Hallman-Haines begin at 10 a.m. Trail rides start at 10:30 a.m. There will be guided tours, kids’ activities, food vendors and raffle prizes.
Throughout the afternoon Saturday, there will be challenge competitions starting at noon; a mud tug at 2 p.m., with a cash purse and free wheeling from 6 p.m. to dark.
On Sunday, participants can ride from 8 a.m. to noon.
Riders seeking more information can visit www.facebook.com/coalpitcrusade, or show up Saturday morning to register if they haven’t already done so online.
Contact the writer: 570-628-6007