The car-wash fundraiser is a summer staple of American suburbia. But how often do the kids involved get to use fire hoses? Or wash down a full-sized fire engine in addition to the parade of minivans and sedans?
It all happened at an event held at the Pleasantview Fire Station in La Grange Highlands on Saturday morning, where over 40 friends and classmates of young Indian Head Park Kelli O’Laughlin’s memorial fund co-opted the engine bay for use as a drive-through car was, charging $5 a car and using the station’s own hoses to provide a thorough cleansing of locals’ vehicles.
Mariah Walsh and Macy Tabachka, friends of Kelli’s, organized the event and said the Pleasantview Department was “super nice” about lending them the bay for the fundraiser. (The station promoted the event on its exterior LED board and brought in one of their own engines for cleaning, donating $20 for the super-sized job.)
“I really felt like Kelli would have wanted to do a car wash,” Walsh said. “She’d be the type of person in there [yelling] really loudly with the bubbles and stuff… She would have loved that, and it’s a fun thing to do for everyone.”
“We just want to remember Kelli; we never want her to be forgotten because she was such an amazing person,” Tabachka added. “And bringing the whole community together to raise some money for her fund—I think that’s just great.”
Armed as they were with water and soap, the young volunteers managed to get at least as much of it onto the cars as they did onto each other, combining community service with beating the weekend heat.
Other volunteers, adults and friends of the O’Laughlin family, sold raffle tickets for a number of items donated by various Lyons Township-area businesses.
In the end, the kids washed over 115 cars and sold enough raffle tickets and T-shirts to collect about $2,500 for the fund.
Kelli’s parents, Brenda and John O’Laughlin, were also in attendance and spoke warmly of the yet another fundraising effort for the Kelly Joy O’Laughlin Memorial Fund, which has already provided its first scholarships. (A golf outing for the fund also took place the day before at Oak Brook Golf Club with about 100 attendees.)
“Kelli was a friend to all, and you can see that will the different groups of people in there—a lot of these kids, they don’t hang around with each other, but [Kelli] brought the whole community together,” Brenda O’Laughlin said. “It’s amazing, all of the support.”