A cross-country relay orchestrated by a Kelowna Jeep owner will begin this Sunday.
Steve Steele started an online club called Jeep Okanagan shortly after becoming a first-time Jeep owner last July, initially initially with the intention of learning more about Jeeps and connect with other owners in the area.
What resulted was a brand new community that now has 10 chapters throughout western Canada, and will soon begin its first ever Pass the Flag Across Canada tour. The event is a cross-country relay that will see a flag passed along by Canadian Jeep clubs, with support going to local food banks along the way.
“We’ve got a flag and a poster board with a big logo on it, and then all the Jeep clubs can post their club decals on there,” Steele said.
Steele spearheaded the tour by getting in touch with the roughly 50 Jeep clubs that exist in Canada, and then devising a route that would unite them.
The flag is slated to take off from Victoria on Sunday, Aug. 18 and arrive in Halifax 12 days later. The flag will come through the Okanagan on Monday, switching hands in Kelowna at approximately 5 p.m.
Currently about 100 Jeep owners are participating and hundreds more have expressed interest on Facebook. Participants will be collecting food during their leg of the flag run and dropping off donations at their local food bank.
Rally Through the Valley coming soon
The flag relay isn’t the only fundraising event Jeep Okanagan has scheduled in the next few weeks. On Sept. 1 they’ll have their second annual Rally Though the Valley, this time with proceeds going to Can Praxis, a charity that supports people struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Steele created the club’s first rally last year, with modest expectations.
“We were just going to go for a drive down the valley there and we posted on our club site, which wasn’t very big at the time, and then all of a sudden everyone just started coming,” Steele said.
“We expected 20 to 25 people to come and then it ended up being 100 or so, so it was like okay, maybe we’ve got something here,” he laughed. “It’s just kind of grown into something of a connected family.”
Last year the Jeeps went from Vernon to Penticton, but this year they’ll be doing the route backwards so they can set up a post-rally fundraising event at the Cadet Camp. Steele says a number of sponsors have come on board to provide door prizes.
“It’s all for the charity so we’re going to open it up to whoever wants to come out,” Steele said.
The Jeep convoy will leave Penticton’s South Okanagan Event Centre en route to Vernon at 10 a.m. on Sept. 1.