There were well over 230 smiling kids’ faces in supercars on Saturday morning, as the Okanagan Dream Rally made its way from Kelowna to Penticton and back again.
August Luxury Motors hosts the event, where underprivileged and sick children get to co-pilot for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Owner of August Luxury Motors Matt August said he reads through all of the childrens' stories and tries to put them with a driver whom he thinks they get the most out of the experience with.
“The stories are just heartbreaking. We had a little boy who was supposed to ride with us today and his mom told us he got too sick [to come]. I found out this morning he passed away,” August said.
“There are so many kids that you know are terminal, are going through these things, and to see them smile for this little bit, it pays off for all this hard work. Everything we do, it's really, really neat.”
After a hiatus due to the pandemic, the fifth annual event did not disappoint as it packed spectators through the route along Highway 97.
“Every year we do this, there's something that just ‘awes’ me. I've never seen this many people out there that are watching us. It was crazy, the whole way, all the way into Penticton. Every time there was a light or a parking lot where someone can park, there were people there with flags, cheering all these little kids on and it's really, really cool.”
This year the rally had a full police escort.
“I apologize for the maybe traffic issues we caused but just know waiting a little bit of traffic made the kids smile ear to ear,” August said with a laugh.
“We have to give a big shout-out to the RCMP. Without them, this doesn't happen. And the City of Kelowna, City of Penticton, the Ministry of Transportation, without having this all shut down, we wouldn’t be here. There'd be cars showing up in Penticton hours and hours after each other.”
This year funds were raised for the Ronald McDonald House and the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation.
August said both organizations were chosen because of their dedicated work to help those in need.
Included in this year’s Dream Rally were five cars in remembrance of 20-year-old, Tyrell Flick, who tragically passed away in a car accident on July 12 in Peachland.
Kelowna’s Meal Prep for You donated all the lunches to the participants and volunteers on Saturday, happy to help out the worthy cause.
“We just feel honoured and privileged just to be a part of this event, it's raised a lot of money and it's helped a lot of people,” partner and former NHLer Duncan Keith said. “It's been awesome to see some of the kids and meet some of them today.”
The Dream Rally will head back through Kelowna and finish off with a private after-party tonight.
“We're gonna be on our road to over a million bucks today,” August said. “We've raised around $1.7 million since we started doing this. And today, hopefully, we get closer to $3 million and the turnout has been awesome. The volunteers, drivers, the families, the people that came out and watched, it's been unbelievable.”