HARRISON – The annual spring T.E.R.R.O.R. Run (Trails End Rough Roarin’ Off Roadin’) outing hosted by Trails End Pub in Leota has, for years, been a fundraising endeavor which has supported Special Olympics. Remarkably, this year’s Sept. 18 T.E.R.R.O.R. Ride event boasted the largest (300-plus) pre-registration of off-road vehicles to date. And an additional 120 vehicle registrations came in the day of the event. Of course, the vehicles most often carry more than one passenger, resulting in what was described as “a very nice-sized crowd.”
This year’s event also included an add-on fundraiser to benefit the Veterans Freedom Park Statue Project. And, as hoped, this event proved to be the lynch pin event that secured enough funds for purchasing the final planned-for statue at the park. This sixth statue will honor those who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Maye Tessner-Rood, who has spearheaded the statue project fundraising efforts, was pretty much over the moon about the success of the T.E.R.R.O.R. Ride. She said that people were clamoring after raffle tickets for a chance to win the 2021 Polaris 500 Ranger side-by-side, while at the same time adding to the statuary coffers. That limited-ticket raffle which yielded $10,000 was run solely by the Veterans Freedom Park Statue Project and aided by ticket-selling assistance from Trails End, Jackpine Restaurant and the Airport Restaurant. An additional $1,760 was provided by a 50/50 raffle. Tessner-Rood said the day’s events brought in a total of $23,000 from which expenses had to be deducted, then the proceeds split among the Freedom Park and Special Olympics.
“Cid Jones won the side-by-side,” she said. “Bless her heart, for over 30 years she’s bought tickets from every kid in school and from us – and I thought, how nice that she did that, so I was excited.”
She went on to say that enough funds [more than $30,000 less some event expenses] had been raised at the Freedom Ride earlier this year to pay off the fifth statue which honors veterans of Desert Storm, and also reach half the cost for the final statue.
Tessner-Rood said she was eager to proudly post to Facebook the words: “Through the Rosie Campaign, it was We Can Do It and ‘We Did It!”
While being a fount of fundraising and organizational knowledge herself, Tessner-Rood is the first one to say she does not accomplish these successful drives on her own. She always gives credit to the many people who work together to create these win-win events.
Ordering the remaining two statues has been a bit challenging, considering delays due to COVID-19 and terminology confusion which had necessitated a change in uniform styles.
After learning that the government had lumped all three Gulf conflicts into one which led the sculptor to have the wrong uniform on the Desert Storm soldier, some shifting of sleeve length and revamping of helmet has led to wax resculpting and a new schedule for casting at the foundry. Despite that delay, Tessner-Rood is hopeful that the Desert Storm statue can be installed in time for Veterans Day 2021.
She said the same artist worked with on the Korea and WWII statues had said the cost of bronzing was going up and urged locking in the price to ensure the foundries would honor that price. However, with the needed changes to resculpt the upper half of the body “to get it right,” and then locking it in, the price had gone up.
“But, because we worked with this artist before, he’s letting us have it for the original price from two years ago when we first looked at it,” she said. “He was very good about that, and he’s the one who’s always kicked in half of the shipping, if we have to ship.”
Shipping definitely can add sizeable cost, as the statues are created a great distance from Harrison: the Desert Storm statue is being cast in New York, and the Iraq and Afghanistan statue will be cast in Utah.
Tessner-Rood said the statue buying process is done in three increments: 1) When the wax mold is completed and approved; 2) When the mold is sent to the foundry; and 3) When the statue is completed/prior to shipping. She said the first payment had been sent the previous week to Utah to start the wax mold process.
Tessner-Rood said she was ordering more T-shirts, as they had sold out – and demand for them continues.
“Our goal is, after all the shipping is paid, that people can look forward to a Snowball Dinner-Dance this year, if COVID allows,” she said. “It’s just going to be a relaxed thank you to the community.”
After many years of concentrated efforts to bring the statue project to fruition, Tessner-Rood is excited to see its successful conclusion.
“It’s going to be awesome – it’s going to be fun!” she said.
While there is no longer ongoing fundraising, Tessner-Rood did say that CTE students and others had been doing some projects which will be auctioned off at the Snowball. Proceeds from that auction will be donated for maintenance supplies for Veterans Freedom Park.
“What an outpouring of buy-in-ship from our communities,” she said. “That they backed this project for six years to make it happen. I mean, we’re the poorest county in Michigan, and the support, the love. And it hasn’t been big donations – it’s $5, $10 raffle tickets, the $15 dinner tickets, the Rosie Campaign of $100. There hasn’t been humongous grant money or anything to get us there – it’s been the true buy-in-ship of people. That keeps you very humbled.”