Center for Children hosts Touch-a-Truck
Touch-a-Truck inspires children in La Plata
After initially being rained out earlier in the spring, Center for Children hosted their eighth Touch-A-Truck event raising money for the center’s different resources offered to families with children in need on Saturday.
Mental health, quality education and crisis intervention are some of the center’s specialties said Cathy Meyers, executive director of the Center for Children in La Plata. The event helps the organization raise money to tend to those needs.
This year’s event was held on the Charles County Government building parking lot after being rained out at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf, where the event is typically held. With the change in location, Meyers said, there were less people at the event. But the theme still remained the same.
“It’s a little bit down because of the change of date and location. We usually expect about 2,000 people,” Meyers said. “But we’re just glad to be out here on such a nice day for a great cause.”
All event proceeds raised from vendors, sponsors and donors go toward the center’s resources, Meyers said.
“They all help us. We couldn’t do it without them,” she said.
Throughout the event, Meyers said, children have the opportunity to explore different vehicles and learn about professions involving trucks. Along with that, a rock climbing wall, face-painting stations and a blowup slide were available for children to enjoy.
Bob Swarts, a professional luge racer who has competed in the X Games, said having the opportunity to show children what he does and potentially spark someone’s interest is what draws him to the event each year.
Swarts brings out his jet-powered luge fueled by an actual engine that can propel him up to 160 miles per hour. That always draws the most interest from not only children, he said, but everyone at the event.
“Other people have tried to copy it over the years, but I’ve been doing that for 11 years,” Swarts said. “It’s tough to do. The children love it.”
Swarts said he takes pride in showing children they can do different things and have many opportunities. They just have to do what they love, he said.
And even if they are not into extreme sports or luge, Swarts said, Touch-a-Truck presents them with “so many different trucks and vehicles.”
“You never know what will inspire a kid and their career,” Swarts said. “Maybe they come out here and hop on one of these fire trucks or one of these boards. You never know.”
Swarts said he has been a mentor for children with Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a communication disorder, at the Center for Children for years. These are real issues, Swarts said, and “it’s a big deal” to help them.
“The thing is to get them over their problems. They’ve got a lot of programs that help,” Swarts said.
Greg Whitman, a chief engineer for the Hollywood Volunteer Rescue Squad in St. Mary’s County, said helping children and being part of the Center for Children’s cause is what keeps bringing him back to the annual event.
Whitman, who used to work for Center for Children, said the event will always be special to him because of his previous connections with the organization.
The goal for the Touch-a-Truck event is to help children have fun while showing them different options and equipment in many professions.
Whitman brought out the department’s emergency services vehicle equipped with medical supplies, dispatch command center controls and other equipment along with the rescue squad’s “Gator” offroad utility vehicle. “They love the Gator,” he said.
“They inspire them to want to pursue things. Maybe a volunteer activity like this one,” Whitman said. “What a great way to open the door.”
The Benedict Volunteer Fire department brought along this mascot to interact with participants and volunteers as they walked through the parking lot at Saturday’s Touch-ATruck event hosted by La Plata’s Center for Children.