Sonny Leonard has built tens of thousands of race engines and earned a comfortable living with his successful business. However, it’s the one engine he did for free that’s meant the most to him.
Leonard was a part of the Charity Engine Sweepstakes in conjunction with Sunnen and the Performance Racing Industry show which raffled off an engine with 100-percent of the proceeds going to the Victory Junction Camp, a camp built to benefit those children suffering from handicaps.
“This was about helping others,” Leonard said. “I’ve always gotten joy out of helping others; and being involved with such an incredible group of people doing incredible things for incredible children, there’s no other way to feel but to feel great. The opportunity touched my heart from the start.”
This year’s program, the 30th edition of the fundraiser, nearly doubled previous editions. Before the 2018 version, the event drew a maximum of $59,000. This year’s fundraiser raked in an astounding $102,000.
Leonard said it was the trip he made to the Victory Junction camp which lit a fire burning inside to make the most of the opportunity.
“I went down there, and to see those children and to see what they do for those kids, I knew I had to work hard to make the most of the opportunity,” Leonard explained. “When they told me the highest mark, I knew we needed to raise the bar higher than ever.
“I cannot begin to tell you how much of a blessing this has been.”
“When Sonny told us his goal was to collect $100,000 most likely we all thought the same thing, ‘that would be nice, but there is no way it’s going to happen,” said Bob Davis of Sunnen. “It is no wonder Sonny is so successful, he sets his goals high and then puts in the work needed to accomplish them. His daughter, Kelly Ward, was an army of one in promoting the Sweepstakes at races and to all of Sonny’s customers and vendors, and in selling tickets at the show. The others behind the scenes at Sonny’s also deserve our gratitude for their work in assembling the engine and the logistics of getting it to the show.”
Leonard, who has been a championship watermelon farmer, brought along a 146-pound watermelon to the Victory Junction to use in future fundraisers.
“I’ve learned in this life; it is more of a blessing to give than receive,” Leonard said. “To see the gratitude of a group who does so much for children, and to know they will be able to help more kids has been the blessing of a lifetime.”
Effective Sunday evening, the PDRA will be without the only Race Director it’s ever known. https://t.co/xiwzsGet3o
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) December 17, 2018