Dirt, mud and lots of water is what makes for a good off road weekend, especially when you are on a 4-wheeler, 3-wheeler or even a cross-country motorbike. Admission to the 6th Annual Jake Helmig ATV Memorial Ride last Saturday (Sept. 7) was just $2 to get in and $10 for each ATV or bike. There was plenty of food to be eaten, from brats, hamburgers, pulled pork and fried chips. There was no reason to be hungry.

Jake Helmig was 25 years old and coming home from Louisiana when an accident took his young life. Of course, the family was crushed and devastated. Dale and Robin's oldest son Brad came up with the idea of creating this ride and with the help of his other brother Matt, they had only 6 months to prepare for it. They didn't know if they would have enough food or even if anyone would show up, but as I remember from a great Kevin Costner movie: build it and they will come. They had approximately 350 people show up for the fun this year and have raised around $13,000 so far for Autism Awareness, Child Safe of Sedalia, Special Olympics of Central Missouri.

I was very fortunate to get to hang with Brad, Jake's older brother, as he took me on the nine mile trail through the woods, fields and creeks. Anywhere he could make paths, they were there. There were inclined hills to fly up, or even better, go flying down.

This year was the dustiest year since this started back in 2007. Going through the woods and all the open fields, you really get to experience the great outdoors that God has created for all of us. I had so much fun trying to get some great photos, but it was hard to sometimes when you are bouncing around like a wounded tuna. There were several riders that like to ham it up for the camera, and that got me excited. This is what I live for. Getting those great shots of people doing what they love do best.

We finally arrived to the creek, and there was tons of fun going on there. First off, this is where you have the opportunity to get yourself cleaned of the 9 miles of dust that you just dealt with. Little kids all the way up to the older adults were flying through the water . If I hadn't had my camera with me, I would have probably hopped into the water to get my quick bath. There was dirt in places that I still haven't figured out how dirt got there. But I would do it all over again!
I also want to say a personal note. I mentioned this to Brad after our ride, but I want to say this to Dale and Robin, Matt and all your friends. I'm sorry for the loss of your brother, son, uncle and friend. But what a great way to remember him. Doing something that he loved with his heart. This makes for a great legacy for Jake Helmig. His spirit will live on in each and every one of you. It was wonderful seeing all these people celebrating the life of Jake living life to the fullest from what I understood.

I can't Thank the Helmig Family enough for being so kind in allowing me to be part of this wonderful adventure. I can't wait till next year. I don't have an ATV, but that doesn't mean someone won't strap me on the front of theirs and take me along.

It is not too late to make a donation. If you would like to help out in their donations here is the address:

Jake Helmig Memorial ATV Ride

1494 Butterfield Stage Rd

Otterville, MO 65348

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