It’s seems like I shouldn’t have to be even writing this (!) …. but some things in life do need extra emphasis…..

Canada is proud of it’s general reputation as a compassionate country — but of course we do have our faults too.   One of those realities does unfortunately involve some gaps within the way we as a nation have treated our returning military service personnel – and one very prominent Canadian drag racing family has chosen to do something about it.

Spearheaded by team patriarch Ron Hodgson, the defending NHRA Nitro Nostalgia Funny Car World Championship winning Hodgson/Papirnick Racing camp, has taken to task helping to spread some important awareness.   During this summer’s Mopar Rocky Mountain Nationals event, that Edmonton-based team debuted a new association with VETS Canada (Veterans Emergency Transition Services) and began to proudly display that organization’s logo on their potent Camaro Funny Car.  

A lot of the credit for that must be directed to super skilled team driver Ryan Hodgson who was instrumental in bringing things to the forefront.

“My father and our race team have supported many charities in the past,” Ryan explained.  “But I had been searching for a foundation to personally become more involved with.  My wife (Jessica) and I became aware of the VETS “Boots on the Ground” program – which involves people walking the streets to actually find ex military veterans that are homeless or live on the streets.  That whole notion just seems so foreign for our country – but especially so when it involves people that have served our country.”

VETS Canada’s Jim Lowther (left) with Ryan and Ron Hodgson

“Earlier this spring we actually participated in one of the walks – on the streets of Edmonton,” Ryan continued.  “During just two hours of doing that we actually found two vets living on the street.  It was right then and there that we knew inside that something was very wrong.”

That incident prompted Ryan and Jessica and the rest of the Hodgson family.  Not only have they chosen to continue to be involved with promoting more future “Boots on the Ground” walks – they also made a very impressive recent donation to the cause.  Including their race team backer Harold Parfett (Ace Manufacturing) the Hodgson’s graciously cut a cheque for $30,000 and presented that to VETS Canada founder Jim Lowther during a Mopar Rocky Mountain Nationals pre-race event.

Some “emphasis” from Harold Parfett and Ryan Hodgson!

And according to Jessica Hodgson — an additional $4500 was raised during a BBQ and promotional gear sale just prior to the event.   “We really appreciated all our friends and fans for their donations and sincerely thank everyone for their support,” she emphasized.

“I cannot say enough how unbelievable the Hodgson family has been, said Jim, President and CEO of VETS Canada, who is from Nova Scotia.  “People really just don’t know how caring they are.  It was they who contacted us, struck up this relationship and even invited me and my wife Debbie out to the race at Castrol Raceway.  Then their kind financial donation really took us back.”

Jim affirmed that all donations directed to VETS Canada are 100% used to assist their cause.  Since being first established at a grass roots level in 2010, but now registered as an official national charity, VETS Canada has assisted over 4000 people so far (a mind bogglingly sad number!).

“We do have over 1000 volunteers so far all across Canadian cities,” he added.  “Our primary objective is to seek out homeless veterans and veterans in crisis – wherever they may be – so they have a place to go and a place to get help 24-7.  I can speak from personal experience too — I served for 15 years but had to leave because of injury and PTSD.  So I do understand.”

Jim and Debbie and their supporters have set very high goals for VETS Canada – with their ultimate target being “zero” vets in crisis.  So – if you are personally aware of a specific situation or need or if you want more information about VETS Canada including their “Boots on the Ground” program – please – click on the banner below.  

Posted by Bruce Biegler