We have some fantastic news to announce this morning, but first we need to give you a little background. Last weekend, the American Le Mans Series came to Road America for it's annual race. That is of significance to us, because one of our alumni, Dan Binks, is the Crew Chief for the Pratt&Miller Corvette teams that run in that series. Dan and his father, Phil, have both been tremendously generous to Anokijig over the years, not only in their own giving, but in opening the doors for us to meet other folks, who have helped Anokijig in many significant ways.
While there are many people who have played a part in creating Anokijig and transitioning it into an independent camp, the contributions of the Binks family cannot go unrecognized. In fact, it could easily be said that Anokijig would not be here today, were it not for the Binks family. Given their strong connection to Anokijig and our deep appreciation for their efforts, we always look forward to a visit from any of the Binks clan, as they roll through our neighborhood and last weekend was no exception.
Dan brought his family with him (as he often does) and we gave them the grand tour at Anokijig. We also spent some time with Dan at Road America, which is always an amazing experience. It is clear to us that Dan shares our passion for Anokijig and the programs and services we offer for children and families and he is always advocating on our behalf. A few months ago, he mentioned that one of his friends in the racing community might be interested in helping us and asked what our significant needs might be in the near future.
While the debt incurred to save Anokijig is shrinking, it still looms over us as a strong reminder of how close we came to losing this very special place. Dan understands as well as we do, that eliminating that debt once and for all is always our top priority. However, we also know "debt reduction" isn't the most-attractive option for potential donors, so we came up with a suggestion that was very much a concern of ours and definitely needed attention- Anokijig's green Suburban.
This 1997 Suburban has been a tremendous vehicle for us and has been with us for nearly ten years now. Even though it had over 100,000 miles on it when it was donated, it still served us very well and we've subsequently managed to put nearly 300,000 on the odometer! Like any vehicle with that kind of mileage, the Suburban is starting to show it's age. The 3/4-ton chassis has been a blessing for towing heavy loads, like the Allegheny (pictured) and our horse trailers and the four-wheel drive has carried us through many winters.
This truck has also been used to take Anokijig campers on countless adventure trips as far away as Canada, so reliability is even more of a concern in that regard. Our board and staff have been talking for quite some time about finding a replacement for it, but like any other significant expense, they try to prioritize and see if more economical alternatives exist.
It occurred to us that finding a replacement for this Suburban might be a great way for someone to help us in a significant and meaningful way. We began talking to our friends in the automotive world and gathered wholesale and retail prices on used, 3/4-ton Suburbans with four-wheel drive, since those were our two key concerns. Colors and other options were not a concern, but we needed something that could tow heavy loads and handle Wisconsin winters. We found a used Suburban locally at Van Horn Chevrolet and Teresa Van Horn was willing to offer us a significant discount on that vehicle, so it seemed like the perfect fit for our needs.
One of the PR folks at Pratt&Miller put together a mock-up of a similar Suburban with Anokijig logos on it, as well as the logos of the company Dan Binks' friend owns, similar to what we've done recently with other donated vehicles. Dan presented the idea of the Suburban to his friend, Greg Pickett, the owner of Muscle Milk, and Mr. Pickett agreed to help us, with one condition- if he was going to do this, the truck had to be brand-new!
Dan was absolutely floored by Mr. Pickett's generosity, as we all were. We surely cannot thank him enough and greatly appreciate his gift. We try not to overburden Anokijig supporters with tasks and requests, but we felt in this situation, it might be appropriate to mention something to all of you. One of the most-coveted awards in the American Le Mans Series is the "Most Popular Driver" award, which is voted on by the fans. Mr. Pickett happens to be one of the drivers eligible and if you feel so compelled, you can vote for him at this link- http://www.americanlemans.com/primary1.php?cat=poll
Thank you Dan Binks!
Thank you Greg Pickett!