06-28-08, 12:31 PM
Mahoning Valley Speedway <br />
Friday, June 27, 2008 <br />
Marines Helping Marines <br />
Infinity Racing <br />
LEHIGHTON, Pa. -- Mahoning Valley Speedway (MVS) late model driver, Kristian Kalch, was spotted at the...
06-28-08, 12:37 PM
Tannersville teen racing to help Marines
By Matt Langan
Record Sports Writer
June 28, 2008 6:00 AM
Kristian Kalch first sat behind the wheel of a competitive race car when he was 7 years old.
After making his way up the racing food chain, Kalch was in command of a 650-horsepower Ford Fusion before he had his learner's permit.
Kalch, 16, of Tannersville, races a regular schedule at Mahoning Valley Speedway in Lehighton. In 2007, Kalch and the speedway collected numerous barrels of toys and raised a total of $3,900 for Toys for Tots.
After being named 2007 Rookie of the Year at Mahoning Valley Speedway, Kalch has bigger racing aspirations and a different logo on the hood of his Ford this year.
He has teamed up with the speedway and its drivers to raise awareness and collect donations for Marines Helping Marines, a non-profit organization that provides services for severely injured military personnel in hospitals throughout the United States. The organization also helps alleviate the financial burden suffered by the soldiers' families.
"We always stand by the motto that Marines take care of their own," said Ron Short, retired Marine and national director of MHM.
Short and the Marine Corps League, which is made up of former and active duty Marines, started this organization five years ago and found the need for help when more injured soldiers started coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Department of Defense pays for the soldiers' immediate family to be flown to Bethesda, Md., or one of the other military hospitals. MHM picks up the tab on extra family members and pays for hotel rooms and living expenses so that the soldiers can be with their loved ones.
"Anything these young men need, we'll give it to them," said Short. "We buy them DVD players, televisions, X-Boxes and stuff like that as well. They might be big, badass Marines, but they're still kids at heart."
MHM's members strive to do what they can to take the injured soldiers' minds off their injuries.
"We also pick up the bill for cookouts, fishing trips, Redskins and Orioles games, and other outings," Short said.
There will be three fundraising events that Kalch has arranged, including a July 4 race at Mahoning Valley Speedway. The festivities include a raffle and fireworks. The event kicks off at 7 p.m. and there will be Marine Corps representatives collecting donations.
The first 1,000 people through the door will receive a free ticket for the ARCA race on Saturday, Aug. 9, at Pocono Raceway. There will also be a special performance by country music recording artist Donna Parsons.
Kalch's second event will be a car display during Pennsylvania 500 weekend. The event will be held at the Lehigh Valley Quarter Midget Racing Club, located at Gate 5 of Pocono Raceway on Friday, Aug. 8 at 6 p.m.
The third event will be held during the West End Fair on Aug. 24 at 11 a.m.
Kalch is proud to be able to bring some much needed recognition to a viable cause.
"I found the organization on a Web site," Kalch said. "We do charities a lot and we worked with the Marines last year. They appreciate what we do."
Donations can also be made at Ken's PDQ Lube and Service Center in Tannersville. Ken's is taking donations until the end of August.
Main Street Jukebox in Stroudsburg also made a generous contribution by donating 2,000 compact discs to injured Marines. For more information or to donate online, go to www.marineshelpingmarines.org.