Radio Days raise money for Jeep Posse, despite virus scare
By Doug Lowe
For 53 years, volunteers with Sanpete Search and Rescue have been saving people in all kinds of tricky situations and challenging conditions—be it deep snow, thin ice, dangerous cliff face or underwater. But, this year they found themselves confronting an entirely new challenge brought on by the novel coronavirus.
Less than a week before April 1, the leaders of the 40 member organization found themselves facing a difficult decision: Should they cancel their annual “Radio Days” event, also known as “Jeep Posse Days,” in light of the governor’s plea for social distancing?
According to Bo Lund, the organization’s First Vice Commander and an employee of KMTI radio, “This year the wheels were kinda falling off everything in the world around us when we had to decide whether to go ahead and hold Radio Days and its Jeep Posse fundraiser, or put it off because of the virus.”
Always held on April Fool’s Day, the event had always been lots of fun, thanks to things like the continuous radio broadcasts, and the Coca-Cola “trailer jails” set up around the county. Money was raised to fund most of the nonprofit organization’s operational expenses, equipment purchases, training costs, etc.
In recent years, that one day of fundraising alone had sometimes brought in more than $30,000. While the biggest donations usually came from supportive businesses, a significant amount was brought in by getting individuals to make donations and come buy SAR caps and T-shirts, as well as other products as at the Coca-Cola “trailer jail.”
The organization’s leadership, “the command staff,” had to put their heads together and consider at least two tough questions: first, would skipping their big fundraiser—even for one year—seriously hamper the organization’s ability to fulfilling its mission? And, second, would holding the event in any way increase the risk of spreading the deadly, new coronavirus in our community?
With less than one week remaining before the big event, the decision was made to hold Radio Days on schedule, but with a very different look. So, on April Fool’s Day, the Jeep Posse’s fundraiser kicked off on KMTI, at 8:30 a.m., and continued for eight hours.
Some activities had to be eliminated this year. Folks listening to KMTI were not urged to make a donation that would get a friend arrested and thrown into the Coca-Cola jail. Friends and family of the arrested person were not urged to come to the jail and spend enough money, buying caps, T-shirts, and other products, to make bail and spring the incarcerated individual. And, many of the local business who made contributions to the Jeep Posse during Radio Days in the past were no longer open.
Still, by the day’s end, more than $15,000 had been raised, and the organization’s Command Staff breathed a sigh of relief. As one of those leaders, and as an employee of the radio station, Bo Lund felt particularly relieved, saying, “Given what we were up against, I think we are all very satisfied, and appreciative of the community’s continuing support.”
Prospective volunteers who desire to join the organization, as well as prospective donors who desire to make a contribution, are invited to visit the group’s website (www. sanpeteSAR.org) and Sanpete County Search and Rescue page on Facebook.