By Shelley Grieshop
Ian Bruce is a quiet kid, not the kind of boy you'd expect to plan a fundraiser and cook spaghetti for a crowd.
But the 14-year-old plans to do just that. He may even don an apron July 15 when he spearheads a spaghetti dinner at the Mendon First Church of God to raise money for Victory Junction Gang Camp, a place in Randleman, N.C., that helps children with chronic or life-threatening illnesses.
"I first heard about the camp when it was advertised during a NASCAR race on TV a few years ago," says Bruce, the son of Pastor Dean Bruce of the Mendon church, and his wife, Kristy.
Victory Junction was established by NASCAR driver Kyle Petty and his wife, Pattie. The couple were in the process of organizing a camp for seriously ill children when their 19-year-old son, Adam, was tragically killed while racing in 2000. After struggling for years with the emotional loss of their child, they opened Victory Junction in 2004 in his memory.
Ian, an avid Indianapolis Colts fan, got an up-close look at how the camp works during a visit with his aunt's niece, who is confined to a wheelchair. "I got to see the different things they offer the kids like arts and crafts, horseback riding and fishing," explains Ian, a home school student. "I was impressed."
Ian's father says his son has expressed a desire to raise money for children less fortunate than himself on several occasions. The two kicked around several ideas but decided on the spaghetti dinner -- a local fundraising favorite, Dean Bruce says.
"He first got approval from the church board so he could use the building," Dean Bruce explains.
It didn't take long for several church members to generously volunteer their help baking bread and desserts and soliciting funds from the community to defray costs. One hundred percent of freewill donations by attendees will go to the camp, Dean Bruce says.
Ian himself plans to be chef, at least partly.
"Mom said I'm cooking the hamburger," he adds with a grin.
Several months ago, Ian wrote a letter to the camp seeking permission to hold the fundraiser and they sent him the necessary paperwork with their approval, he says. He thinks he may try to make the fundraiser an annual event and someday return to North Carolina to visit the camp.