June 2014

Charity Corner: The Great Race For a Great Cause

Author: Courtney Hillis

Meet Mark Piekarski and Lennel Stroud, a local couple who is turning a hobby into a fundraising event for Hilton Head Heroes. Piekarski and Stroud will be racing a 1931 Ford Model A from Maine to Florida, all in the name of charity (and fun)! The couple, who have known each other since high school, will participate in The Great Race, an antique car rally of 100 vehicles. The cars will travel on secondary (non-interstate) roads competing in this time-speed-distance event. Piekarski said, “The key is to follow the precise instructions, the precise speed they give you, so that you do not come in too early or too late at the check points.” They are given very intricate directions that Stroud, as the navigator, must follow while Piekarski drives. “The directions are clues sometimes. They are not always clear so you have to pay attention.” Piekarski said. The pair is new to the event, but they have participated in other rallies as practice for The Great Race.

Piekarski has always been interested in antique cars, and Stroud loves the look of the 1931 Model A. While they were shopping for the car, they came across an advertisement for The Great Race and decided it was something they wanted to do. The rally begins on June 21 in Ogunquit, Maine and ends on June 29 in The Villages of Florida. The couple will travel with a support team, following The Great Race motto of “ride, repair, repeat.”


Stroud and Piekarski are recognized as part of the 100 Heroes for their contributions to the charity.

Stroud and Piekarski drew inspiration from the Boston Marathon to raise money for their chosen charity, Hilton Head Heroes, during the event. Similar to the marathon, a person can pledge a dollar amount per mile completed; Piekarski and Stroud are asking for one cent to $1 per completed mile. In addition to the monetary donation, the couple will also be raising awareness for the charity by featuring the Hilton Heroes logo and website on the side of the car as well as passing out postcards at their scheduled stops, including Norfolk, Va.; Wilmington, N.C.; Mount Pleasant, S.C.; and Savannah, Ga. among others.

Hilton Head Heroes is the couple’s favorite local charity because it works with children who have life-threatening illnesses. The charity provides a weeklong vacation for families with children who are critically and terminally ill and who would otherwise not be able to afford a vacation.

“To take them out of the everyday shots and let them have a little vacation; I just thinks it makes a world of healing for the family and the soul.” Stroud said. Stroud and Piekarski are recognized as part of the 100 Heroes for their contributions to the charity.

For more information and to donate money, visit hhheroes.com.

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