From left to Right: Mike Eschbach, the Piasa Bird District Director, Tom Gerke, General Manager of Jack Schmitt Chevrolet in Wood River and Jackit Schmt Chevrolet owner, Jack Schmitt, stand in front of the awards table before the start of the race.

Jack Schmitt Chevrolet hosted the Piasa Bird District Corporate Pinewood Derby at the dealership in Wood River on Wednesday, March 25, in support of the Boy Scouts of America.

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The purpose of the annual event is to raise monies for the local Boy Scouts to fund all the activities they are involved in throughout the year to include camps, activities and events.

Jack Schmitt Chevrolet has hosted the Corporate Pinewood Derby since they opened 7 years ago, which has raised over $30,000 in total. This year, the event raised nearly $6,000.

“It really is a lot of fun,” said Mike Eschbach, the Piasa Bird District Director. “Next year, we are really going to expand the event.”

Jack Schmitt Chevrolet of Wood River, Scott Credit Union, 1st Mid America Credit Union, Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery WRB Refining LP, Leonard F. Berg Attorney at Law, The Bank of Edwardsville, East Alton Fire Department, Botterbush & Associates, Shell Community Credit Union and Dealer’s Electrical Supply all participated in the event as sponsors to raise funds for the BSA. Scott Credit Union sponsored the trophy giveaway, which were presented to the winnersduring the event.

The Friends of Scouting Campaign is the main fundraising event for Scouting, which includes the pinewood derbies and other community events. The total goal is $40,000 and the campaign is about halfway to that goal, including the family campaign funds from the families.

“This is a big event for us and is an important part of the Friends of Scouting Campaign,” said Kevin Botterbush, Chairmen of Friends of Scouting Campaign for the Piasa District. “We have a lot more fun doing this than knocking on doors asking for donations.”

Each sponsor built a pinewood derby car and paid an entry fee to participate. The cars were raced on the official Pinewood Derby track and awards were given to the fastest times and best looking derby car.

Jack Schmitt Chevrolet won 1st, 2nd and 3rd place for the fastest times.

“The guys in their shop know how to build fast cars,” said Eschbach.

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The “Best of Show” award went to First Mid America Credit Union.

Mike Eschbach presents the Best of Show trophy to Bob Blacklock of First Mid AmericaThe BSA relies on campaigns and fundraising events such as the Pinewood Derby to operate and provide the best quality program.

“It costs us $175 per Scout to put on this program, so the Friends of Scouting Campaign is really important to help provide the funds so we can have the camps that we have and operate a quality program for the kids throughout the year,” said Botterbush.

Ninety-one percent of the funds go right back into our community, said Botterbush, referring to all the programs that the kids are involved in that give back to the community through activities and events.

Many of the businesses that contribute and participate in the BSA fundraising events have a relationship with the Boy Scouts of America in some way shape or form and understand the impact it can have on the young men and women in our community.

“These business owners truly understand the importance of the program,” said Botterbush. “They see the young men and ladies, and realize that they are the future leaders of our community and they know the importance of that.”

Jack Schmitt himself enjoys giving back to the community through the Boy Scouts of America because of his personal experiences with the program as a child.

“When I was a little kid, my dad was always really busy working,” said Schmitt, a former Boy Scout and owner of Jack Schmitt Chevrolet. “I would’ve never known about outdoors and all that stuff if it weren’t for the program. I went to my Scout meeting every Monday night and I liked it because there was always men there to give me guidance and help teach us young kids about camping and such.”

Schmitt and Gerke said they will continue to support the program as long as they can and hope that others will continue to do so as well so that the Boy Scouts of America will continue to live on the legacy.

“Nobody is supporting boy scouts anymore,” said Tom Gerke, General Manager at Jack Schmitt Chevrolet in Wood River and former Boy Scout. “Scouting is a great program. It keeps the kids off the streets and teaches them the basics of life. If nobody supports these programs, they just fall apart.”

The Piasa Bird District would like to give a special thanks to Jack Schmitt Chevrolet Wood River, Tom Gerke, The Leggett Family, Bob Blacklock, Kevin Botterbush, Budget Signs, Trophies and Plaques and all of the Corporate Pinewood Derby Sponsors and participants for their support of Scouting.


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