WarChild, photographer team up to raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Motorcycles and coloring books? Discordant images to most, but a worthy collaboration for Aaron Horrell and the WarChild Riding Group.

Horrell, a Chaffee, Mo., artist and nature photographer, has worked together with WarChild, the Chaffee motorcycle club, to create and sell a 64-page coloring book to raise funds for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. Horrell worked on the book at his own expense, and WarChild is passing all profits on to St. Jude's.

Horrell, a self-declared "nature fanatic who is willing to lay on the ground to catch pictures of frogs and flowers," has filled the book with compilations of images from life, such as family scenes, various wildlife, farm life and people associated with WarChild. The first image children will encounter is Santa Claus aboard a motorcycle on the cover.

Horrell said he donated his time and artwork to the book because of the children benefited by St. Jude.

"I can't think of anything better to give my time to," he said. "There's nothing sadder than seeing a 7-, 8- or 9-year-old with cancer."

The coloring book is having a successful distribution. An initial 500 copies were printed April 24, and, at $5 a book, the copies all sold by the following Sunday evening. Another 500 copies were ordered the following week and were all sold by the end of that week as well. The books have continued to print and sell, and WarChild is currently up to its 2,000th copy ordered.

"I was even contacted by a riding group from Tennessee," said Larry "Hammer" Glueck, president of WarChild Riding Group, about the growing interest in the book and its cause. "We've just sent them $150 worth of books to be sold."

The WarChild Riding Group, whose name represents the military veteran motorcycle riders and the children they seek to benefit, began in 2005 with six members and has grown to 130 members. The project to benefit St. Jude's was inspired by WarChild member David "P-Nut" Grimes, who died in a motor vehicle accident in September 2006 and had wanted to support the hospital in some way.

WarChild holds poker runs and an annual motorcycle rally to raise money for the hospital. The fifth annual WarChild Rebel Yell motorcycle rally will be Friday, Saturday and June 7 on the Paul Friga Farm off Highway 77 between Chaffee and Oran, Mo.

"This is actually our big moneymaker," Glueck said. "Our goal this year is to raise $10,000."

The group will ride to St. Jude on July 31, tour the hospital Aug. 1 and present a check for $10,000, raised through the coloring book and other fundraising rallies.

When Glueck presented the idea of the coloring book to the riding group, it was initially met with chuckles. After three months of collecting photographs and rendering illustrations, Horrell presented the final images to Glueck in March.

The work was approved unanimously at WarChild's next meeting.

"They've apologized now. 'This thing is working great!' they say," Glueck said of the skeptics. "Everybody thinks the world of St. Jude's."

The coloring book project has become personal. The final page has a picture of the memorial to Grimes, with a poem written by another member.

Horrell related his own eagerness to benefit others.

"I spent time with the Seabees in Vietnam. I've seen needy people in bad situations and had my own time dealing with the pain of back surgery," Horrell said. "I know what it is to suffer, but I also know what it is to eat cake."

The coloring books are available at Sandy's Toddle Inn, Whitaker's Hardware and Hunt Brother's Pizza in Chaffee and at Show Me's, Pop's Pizza and the Gordonville Bar and Grill in Cape Girardeau.

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