Nation Ford High School sophomore Wyatt Lemmon will drive 800 miles through three Northern states for charity just days before his 16th birthday.
Wyatt, a Subaru enthusiast, will drive his 2005 Subaru Impreza 2.5 Rally Sport edition in Subaru’s 16th annual 48-Hours of Tri-State Drive for Charity event Jan. 12-15. This year’s drive will benefit the Make-a-Wish Foundation, which helps grant wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses. Subaru matches all funds raised.
The drive will begin in New Jersey and take mainly back roads through New York and Vermont, with stops at the Vermont Sports Car Facility, a Make-a-Wish Foundation office and the Subaru of America Headquarters.
The event started in 2002 when five North American Subaru Impreza Owners Club members decided to take a tour of the Tri-State region while raising money for a good cause. Over the years the group has fundraised for non-profits such as the New York State World Trade Center Relief Fund, The American Cancer Society and Alex’s Lemonade Stand.
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Wyatt is the youngest participant – by far – and is traveling the farthest to participate. Wyatt’s dad, Bruce Lemmon, will ride shotgun. Wyatt also serves as a Subaru Ambassador, a coveted title that around 1,000 people apply for and only around 200 receive, Wyatt said.
“He’s definitely the youngest (Subaru ambassador) in the South,” and possibly the youngest overall, said Jennifer Lemmon, Wyatt’s mom.
Additionally, Wyatt’s work as a cinematographer was featured in Subaru’s Drive Performance magazine. He has also done work locally, for car clubs and Fort Mill BBQ Company.
Wyatt was just 6 years old when he first dreamed of owning a Subaru. The Lemmon family lived in New York and the Subaru STI was one of the most sought after cars in the area.
“Up there in the snow, everyone wanted it,” said Wyatt, who celebrates his 16th birthday Jan. 17. “It was very high performance.”
“A lot of people (up North) drive Japanese cars, imported cars, no American cars,” Wyatt explained.
“The car culture is very different here,” Jennifer agreed, comparing the popularity of imported cars in the North to American-made trucks in the South.
“I guess it’s the way people here feel about their pick-up trucks,” she said.
But despite the family’s move South nine years ago, Wyatt’s love for the brand never weaned.
“That just made me want one more, because no one has one down here,” he said.
Nearly every day, Wyatt is decked out in his “Subaru blue,” his Mom said.
“Everything he wears is Subaru ‘World Rally’ blue,” Jennifer said. “Even his sneakers match.”
The Lemmons hadn’t planned on letting their youngest son get his driver’s license yet, but they caved – for a good cause, of course.
“That’s why we went ahead and let him get it, for the charity drive,” Jennifer said.
But like any Mom, she’s a bit apprehensive about the weather conditions her teenage son may face.
“Wyatt’s never driven in snow before. He just got his license two weeks ago,” she said.
Wyatt, on the other hand, can’t wait to drive in the snow.
“(Subarus are) made for snow,” Wyatt said. “They’re all weather. That’s their thing.”
And now he’ll get to represent his beloved brand, driving his Impreza and outfitted in Subaru blue.
All while helping to make a child’s wish come true.
“It was the whole package for him,” Jennifer said.
Kelly Lessard: firstname.lastname@example.org, @KellyLessardFMT