New wheels for Stryder's sister
The bright sun made the shiny classic cars sparkle.
The smell of barbecued hamburgers wafted through the air.
Nine-year-old Stryder Doescher drove his electric wheelchair among the vehicles, accompanied by Keebler, his faithful service dog, his mom and his older sister.
Members of the Crook County Rodders were at it again — hosting another car show to benefit Stryder, a Prineville boy who has multiple medical conditions and faces yet another surgery.
But this event was different.
There was suspense in the air. Car enthusiasts smiled knowingly at each other. People stole looks at Stryder's 17-year-old sister, Kasiah Childers, as she nonchalantly checked her phone and took a seat in the shade of the registration tent.
"My father, Julius, and I own and operate Auto Clinic of Bend," Julieann Wilson announced into a megaphone in the Redmond Walmart parking lot last Saturday morning during Stryder's Rod and Custom Car Show. "We were at a car show back in May, and we had a really strange encounter and a random conversation with Mary-Ann from Crook County Rodders. We were looking for a family in need to donate a vehicle to. We've just been wanting to do some good and give back to our community."
It was during that conversation that Mary-Ann Tomlinson said she had the perfect person in mind for a free car.
"We've done quite a bit, as much as we could, for Stryder and his family over the years, and Kasiah is always in the background," Crook County Rodders President Tom Tomlinson said into the megaphone. "A special car for a special person. Kasiah, come on up and see if you fit in this thing."
The Prineville teen nervously walked over to the spruce-colored 1998 Subaru Legacy Outback and gingerly opened the driver's side door, slipping in.
"Thank you so much. It really helps with a lot of things," she said with a shaky voice and a nervous giggle. "Thank you so much."
You see, her mother, Angela Doescher, has secured housing for her and her two children in Bend, which will be closer to Stryder's doctors. The family plans to move from Prineville, where they have lived for seven years, to Bend later this month.
This will be easier on Angela, making the commute to appointments much easier, but not for Kasiah.
"We're moving to Bend, and I don't want to go to Bend my senior year, my last year," Kasiah said.
She wants to complete her senior year at Crook County High School and continue working at her two jobs in Prineville — but the commute seemed impossible.
Impossible, that is, until the car folks made it happen.
Several Central Oregon businesses and organizations donated supplies and services so the Subaru was in good shape for Kasiah, and Andy Scott from Redmond Walmart invited the Rodders to host the car show benefit.
Auto Clinic of Bend donated the vehicle and made the engine repairs. The Alley Scrapers Car Club bought brand new tires and gave her $100 in gas gift cards. Auto Zone provided all of the parts needed for engine repair, including the head gasket set, head bolt set, timing belt and water pump kit. Prehn's Machine Shop provided cylinder head repairs and new valve stem seals.
Hold Fast Kustoms detailed the car inside and out. Armordillo Power Coating power coated the rims. Bend Towing delivered the vehicle, and Bend Signs made the sign that accompanied the car.
Kasiah, however, will need to learn to drive a stick shift before she can take it for a spin.
"It's a manual, so you're going to have fun learning," Julieann Wilson told her. "It's a lot of fun once you learn."
Kasiah says the $100 in gas cards will also help a lot.
"Even with two jobs, I have to save for insurance, too. I want to pay ahead if I can."
She says she was very surprised with the gift.
"I was listening, and I was like, 'Oh that's really cool that they're doing that,'" she said. "I was like wait a minute. That's not right, when they called my name."