First of all, it isn’t really a road race at all. There are cars and teams of drivers and a course to follow, but there’s no racing through the countryside.
There are a few “gentle” vehicle-related competitions along the eight-day 3,500-mile trip, but most of the action involves interactive contests and challenges along the way.
The other major difference is the cause behind the event. Each team must distribute at least a thousand posters of a missing child.
In this year’s race that ended Saturday, car #55—with members Abby O’Neill, Ace Lipka and Randy Floresca—was given the mission of spreading information about Morenci’s Andrew Skelton.
“The Race to Recover America’s Missing Children” has not been an exercise in futility. To date, the event has led to the recovery of 38 missing children, including five in 2010 and one in 2011.
Morenci teacher Andi Rorick learned about the Fireball Run on Facebook and she soon made contact with O’Neill. Rorick was Andrew’s third grade teacher until he disappeared in November 2010.
“I wanted to let her know more about him other than just what was in the news,” Rorick said.
The two began an exchange that continued throughout the Fireball event—messages that often left O’Neill in tears as she learned about Andrew’s character from his teacher.
“I am so happy you reached out to us because we truly hope that this helps everyone!” O’Neill wrote. “We worked so hard through this mission...over 40,000 posters were distributed in eight days for all of these kids.
“Our hearts melted when we heard there was one child found on our trip already so we know that this process truly works! We are praying and hoping that our efforts help to bring these amazing Skelton brothers home.”
Rorick invited the Team #55 to attend the prayer vigil Sunday in Wakefield Park and O’Neill is checking her calendar. There may be some special guests in town this weekend.