Ask any racers why they want to take part in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill presented by the U.S. Air Force, their answer might be as simple as, “Just because.”
Ask Northern California racer Geri Amani why she put a team together for this year’s event, and her answer would be, “For a cause.” Amani and a team of three drivers took part in this year’s race to help raise money for the Taylor Lynn Foundation, an organization that dispenses micro grants to give children the opportunity to participate in an activity or function that they would not be able to otherwise.
“When I learned more about what they were doing, I thought this could be kind of a neat thing to do,” Amani said. “So I asked if I could do it, and they said yes, and off I went.”
Examples of qualifying micro grants include paying for sports enrollment fees, for camp, or paying for a music and arts program or lessons. The neat part is that when a child applies for the micro grant, he or she is required to have a sponsor sign for them, as well as describe a plan to “pay back” the loan. The foundation doesn’t actually want the money back. Rather, the child is encouraged to “take a moment to give back,” offering him or her the unique opportunity to extend the goodwill to others, under the direction of their sponsor.
Giving back can range from helping an elderly person do chores, volunteering at school for a few afternoons or helping out with another child at school. Amani met founder Michael Cohen at the racetrack. An avid car guy, Cohen started the foundation after his daughter Taylor Lynn passed away from a rare type of brain aneurysm.
In forming the team and the charity effort, Amani set up a website (www.25hoursfortaylorlynn.com) and began a social media campaign to raise awareness and attract donors. She was not at liberty to disclose the specific amount raised, but said it was in the neighborhood of several thousand dollars, which goes a long way in the form of micro grants.
As for the race, it went well for the team, until it didn’t. They qualified seventh in E3 and climbed to as high as third. Then, as often happens, mechanical gremlins crept in. The driver side mirror broke off. The clutch pedal broke and the alternator failed. The team fixed all those problems, while Amani was resting for her next stint. But with three hours left to go in the race, the car gave out.
“By the time I woke up to drive again, the car wouldn’t idle on its own and I think over a long period of driving with it, it just started running leaner and leaner,” she said. “It just stopped working at that point. It just didn’t want to go anymore. So we only made it 22 hours.”
In all, Amani came away satisfied with the team’s efforts and the money they raised for the charity. Though, nothing is certain, they are already talking about racing next year, and again doing it for the Taylor Lynn Foundation.
“They let me spearhead it,” she said. “It was actually kind of a fun experience. I haven’t raised money for a charity before, so I didn’t really know what to do. But I did know a lot of car people and people in racing, so I figured that would be a pretty good place to start.”
Charitable donations to the Taylor Lynn Foundation are still being accepted through the website, www.25hoursfortaylorlynn.com.