Making a Difference: Offroading to help others in need
SOMERSET COUNTY, Pa. (WJAC) - A man from Ogletown is continuing his mission to help others through a unique nonprofit organization that involves big wheels and even bigger hearts.
His off-roading hobby turned into annual events that help not just one, but several different causes and hopes more people will want to ride.
Hopping in a muddy jeep, heading for some rocky trails.
This is Sam Buchkovich's idea of a good time.
"It's the most fun you can have going 5 mph, you get to look around see nature,” Buchkovich said while driving his Jeep through the mud.
Buchkovich showed us what off-roading is all about, bumpy rides and enjoying the outdoors.
“It’s relaxing, it's fun, we go slow, we see wildlife. We'll see deer all the time, turkey,” Buchkovich said.
Off-roading became Buchkovich’s hobby when he was in the military, he served in the air force and the national guard. He started the Big Rubbers Custom 4x4 Club in 1996 for him and his friends to enjoy their passion even more.
In 2003, he decided to help others while behind the wheel and made the club a nonprofit organization.
“We always have a toys for tots run and that helps others so we were like let’s help others, let’s help even more people. After we become nonprofit then we got our property a few years later and that opened a whole new world to us to be able to help so many more people and I don’t think we could help as many people as we do without the property,” Buchkovich said.
Several times a year, big wheels roll onto the property in Windber and drivers give a donation to gear up for an adventure through 200 acres of trails surrounded by trees to help different causes.
“Giving back, helping those that can't help themselves, we do everything we do to help others... We go wheelin' with a purpose,” Buchkovich said.
Club members have done a lot through the years from raising funds for people with Cystic Fibrosis and different types of cancer to giving out Thanksgiving meals to those in need.
The most recent event they collected toys for the U.S. Marines toys for tots program.
Another event in October was for homeless veterans in Western Pennsylvania.
“It feels great being a veteran myself, helping my brothers and sisters it’s the best feeling in the world, I can't physically be there to help them but I know the money we donated today 100% of what we give them goes to help them,” Buchkovich said.
“It feels really good there's so many events and charities so it's nice knowing you have the community support behind you cause this mission is huge, anytime you serve 2,000 plus veterans a year it takes an army. We don't have an army of employees to do it so having the community come out and rally about the cause feels phenomenal,” Daniel Blevins, the director of community engagement with the Veterans Leadership Program.
Teaming up with another off-roading group will help put more lives on the right path.
“It was great we could do that, I know it's going to do a great cause and we always wish we could do more and hopefully next year we can do a lot more,” Nick Fedorchak, the president of Steeltown Offroaders Inc.
Thanks to generous people in the area they can keep wheelin' with a purpose.
“If it wasn't for the community and the companies that love doing what we do, we wouldn't be able to do what we do,” Buchkovich said.
Big Rubbers Custom 4x4 Club hosts 5 or 6 off-roading events a year for a different cause each time and only one of the events goes to operating costs for the nonprofit organization.
Their next event will be their spring thaw on the weekend of May 18th.
You can donate to the organization, just reach out to them on Facebook.