Mutton family keeps dad’s memory alive through go-kart race fundraiser
Dave Mutton had been an avid go-kart racer and a proponent of the Make-A-Wish Foundation®, the largest wish-granting organization in the world.
According to the foundation’s website, www.wish.org, Make-A-Wish has been in operation since 1980, following its stated goal of enriching the lives of children with life-threatening medical conditions through its wish-granting work.
Mutton’s friend, Peter Lipp, owns MXK Raceway in Elma, and he suggested a fundraiser race. In 2003, the Dave Mutton Memorial Race was born. The race ran again in 2004, then went on hiatus until it returned in 2011. This year, the DMMR will take place on June 24 from noon - 6 p.m. Jennifer Mutton said she hopes it can be bigger, better and draw more donations than ever.
“Make-A-Wish was [Dave’s] favorite charity,” said Mutton, when explaining why the foundation was chosen as the benefactor for the fundraiser. “He would always listen to the telethon on 97 Rock and it would bring a tear to his eye, although he would never admit it. We were so blessed to have two healthy children, that we wanted to pay it forward.”
Although the foundation does have set guidelines about how a fundraiser can be conducted, Mutton said she appreciated having everything “all laid out” for her and her “pit crew” of volunteers.
“It did take a few weeks, initially, to go through the whole rigmarole with the foundation. Everything has to be cleared with the foundation. In one sense, it makes it easier, because everything is laid out for us. There are a lot of guidelines,” she said.
Although Mutton takes care of the paperwork and logistics for DMMR, her two sons, Dylan, 13, and Max, 11, are the official chairmen of the event. Both boys are students at Springville Middle School.
“Me and my brother sign all of the [donations] and proposals and help spread the word at school and on Facebook,” explained Dylan.
“Last year, for my seventh grade Kids Can Make a Difference Project, I did a concert called Rockin’ for Wishes, with my uncle’s band and a band from school. We auctioned off a guitar signed by all the band members. I thought it would be cool to raise money while doing a project. It was a big hit. We made almost $800,” he said.
“It sounds like a lot of work, but it’s not, if you do it little by little,” Dylan continued. “The last month is the hardest. You’re doing it in little pieces and then you have to rush to make sure it’s perfect. The day of the race is great, seeing everyone’s smiles and everyone having fun. It’s a good cause and a good feeling, knowing you helped out a kid get his No. 1 wish so he can live out his life.”
“After Make-A-Wish, he can cross it off the old bucket list,” added Max.
The three recalled last year’s DMMR recipient, a boy who wanted to “deck out” his own go-kart trailer. Jennifer Mutton said that it “just worked out” that the recipient of the funds was also a go-kart fan, since the organization typically matches up recipients with sponsoring fundraisers, unless the fundraising group already has a child in mind. The Muttons have not been told who will receive their donations this year.
“Our goal is to help a child forget, for a few minutes, for an hour, for a day, that he’s sick. It helps out the child, the family and really makes a difference,” said Mutton.
“You can see the thanks,” Dylan added. “When we got [last year’s recipient] his go-kart trailer ... to know that we helped him out and to see that smile on his face, it felt really good.”
Jennifer Mutton said there are a few changes that will make this year’s event even more unusual.
“It’s different than any other fundraiser. It’s not a walk, not a run, not a golf outing. It’s something unique. This year, we will be adding a chicken barbecue with Wil’s BBQ Sauce. [That sauce] is .. mouthwatering, and I don’t even like barbecue sauce,” she said, with a laugh.
According to www.davemuttonmemorialrace.org, this DMMR will include three race heats. The fastest three racers in each heat will be awarded a medal and be invited to race in the final heat. The top five fastest times will be awarded with DMMR 2012 plaques.
In past years, the daylong event has seen approximately 200-300 attendees, although Mutton said she hopes to increase that number with the addition of the barbecue, a carnival and basket raffle for those who might not be racing enthusiasts. She said that she hopes the additions will be “fun for the whole family.
This year is the first year it’s on a Sunday, so hopefully we can get even more people. People can stop by after church, shop at the baskets, pick up a chicken barbecue and do a few laps to make a wish come true,” Mutton said.
The 20 or so pit crew volunteers help with selling tickets, collecting donations and working to make sure everything runs smoothly on race day.
“We try to keep it as organized as possible and we know we have Dave looking over us. He makes sure we have good weather. We always have,” Mutton said.
“Between the second to last lap and the last lap, we do a backwards lap in honor of Dave, in which we push his go-kart backwards around the track. We do a balloon release too, which is a real tear-jerker; very emotional,” she noted.
With the 2012 DMMR about a week away, the Muttons said advertising is in full swing.
“Last year for the Rock For Wishes, I started a Facebook page,” Dylan explained. “I thought that my friends would see it, show it to their moms and then [the moms] would show it to other people. We have a page on Facebook for the race so people can invite [other] people. It’s a good way to advertise, since everyone is on Facebook now.”
Jennifer Mutton said that the family’s main goal is helping Make-A-Wish accomplish its mission.
“We’re just trying to spread the word about this wonderful organization. Last year, a wish cost, on average, $5,000. This year, it’s up to $7,500. We know that Western New York is so generous, we’re just praying that we can make one wish come true,” she said.
“Dave was ‘Uncle Dave’ to everybody. He was everybody’s favorite person. I know he’s smiling down on us right now. It’s going to be a great day. We’ve got angels on our side.”
Tickets for the DMMR are available at Serenity Spa ‘n More in West Seneca and at MXK Raceway at 800 Bullis Road in Elma.
More information about the race can be found at www.davemuttonmemorialrace.org.