The 2014 High Five Tour made a stop at Amarillo's Gene Messer Ford yesterday evening, allowing visitors to sign the 2014 Shelby in support of the Wounded Warriors Family Support organization.
This is the fifth year for the event to take place, beginning in 2009 when USMCR Col. John Folsom, founder and president of the organization, drove across the nation collecting signatures and donations along the way. He made the cross-country trip in both 2009 and 2010 by himself, and decided at the end of his 2010 tour to team up with the national Mustang clubs to find driving teams for the following years.
Drivers such as Bill Bradford and Curtis Green, a pair of 2014 drivers, spend up to several weeks at a time taking the Shelby to Ford dealerships, community events, veteran organizations, military bases and race tracks in the lower 48 states. This year's tour will stop at 65 cities along the route, showing support and saying thank you to our country's military families for their sacrifices.
"[Bill and I] started this trip last Monday in Atlanta," said Green. "We've been to Columbia, Charlotte, Nashville, Little Rock, Tulsa, and the Oklahoma City area -- where we revisited the hometown of one of the recipients that these cars go for. Tomorrow we'll be in Albuquerque, from Albuquerque to Denver, from Denver to Kansas City, and from there another team of drivers will take over."
The tours begin in May and end in mid-August. After the tour is completed, the cars are sold at auction. The money raised by the cars goes toward smart homes for deserving wounded warriors. This year's recipients are SSgt. Jason Ross, USMC of San Diego, and Cpt. Anthony Simone, USAF of Joliet, Ill. All proceeds from the tour go to the construction of the homes. The specially designed homes provide severely wounded veterans quality of life and independence that they would otherwise not have.
The organization primarily focuses on supporting the family of the wounded warriors, which differentiates this organization from the Wounded Warrior Project.
"We're more about the family," Green said. "Most of [the other organizations] help the soldiers; we're helping the families with this. It's a family tour. Our car this year is Rosie, after Rosie the Riveter from World War II. When the American men went off to war, the wives and girlfriends stayed home, worked the factories, built the planes, the tanks, the trucks for our troops to fight with. When America goes to war, the whole family goes to war. Such as, when they come home hurt and wounded, the whole family is suffering."