Spencer man drives 9,500 miles for Make-A-Wish
By Steve Huffman
SPENCER ó Carl Brown wheeled his 1966 Austin-Healey more than 9,500 miles this summer, in the process covering huge swaths of two nations.
So what was the only trouble he had with the sweet-running little vehicle?
That would be the General Motors Corp. alternator that Brown had converted the British-made car to accommodate.
The alternator was over-charging, on the verge of giving out as Brown and his wife, Linda, were tooling through Wyoming.
“Other than that, the trip was fine,” Brown said.
Even the trouble with the alternator didn’t amount to much. Brown pulled into a car parts place, purchased another alternator and replaced it himself.
Brown started his trip by driving to San Diego. Then, he and his wife headed north to Canada. Before returning to their home in Spencer, they traversed parts of 26 states and two Canadian provinces.
They left June 18 and returned Aug. 9.
But this was more than a long summer vacation. Brown, president of the Austin-Healey Club of America, made the trip in order to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The organization is one that works to fulfill the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. Members of the Austin-Healey Club of America raised $17,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation with a summer drive that culminated with the club’s annual meeting, this year’s held in San Diego.
Brown said he’s hoping that by the time donations quit trickling in, the club will have raised $20,000 for Make-A-Wish.
“That’ll take care of three kids,” he said, noting that to fulfill a sick child’s wish typically costs about $7,000.
Brown left Spencer in tandem with Lexington’s Gary Brierton, who was driving a 1967 Austin-Healey 3000. In St. Louis, the pair met with Greg Lauser, another Austin-Healey driver and club member.
“The Three Amigos,” as they called themselves, proceeded to San Diego, picking up Make-A-Wish donations from an assortment of Austin-Healey Club members along the way.
The drive was called “The Cross-Country Caravan for Kids.”
Following the national club’s annual gathering in San Diego, Brown and his wife ó who had flown to California to join her husband ó left for Canada. They drove through parts of Vancouver and British Columbia before returning to the United States.
Along the way they visited Yellowstone National Park, Jackson Hole, Wyo., the Badlands and the Grand Teton Mountains.
“We saw some interesting things,” Brown said.
Pressed for a favorite part of the trip, Brown declined.
“It was all wonderful,” he said.