BitterRodders Car Club donates to local nonprofit groups

For the past four years, Wes and Debbie Young have found a way to mix community service with their love for classic cars.

As a result, every year about this time, the couple has been proud to present a pair of nonprofit organizations focused on helping young people with a check.

Before any of that can happen, the two are joined by a large crew of volunteers and willing sponsors each July to put together the annual Mildenberger Motors Bitterroot Car Show sponsored by the BitterRodders Car Club.

“It’s always been important to both of us to give back to our community,” said Wes Young. “We look forward every year to putting on the car show, even if it does get a little stressful on that day.”

On Tuesday, the Youngs were joined by members of Mildenberger Motors to hand $1,000 checks to both Emma’s House and Bitterroot Therapeutic Riding.

“It’s incredibly important for us to have this kind of community support,” said Kiersten Schmitt of Emma’s House.

Emma’s House is the state’s first non-hospital-based children’s advocacy center. Created in 2006, the Hamilton facility is a place where forensic interviews can occur in a safe setting.

Other than a few grants, Schmitt said nearly all the funding for the program comes from the community.

The BitterRodders Car Club has supported Emma’s House since its inception, Schmitt said.

This year’s donation to Bitterroot Therapeutic Riding will allow Linda Olsen the opportunity to offer additional scholarships to the variety of youngsters who benefit from a chance to ride and bond with a horse.

“In this economy, families are challenged,” Olsen said. “Group homes are challenged financially. There are lots of youngsters who can benefit from our program. These kinds of sponsorships are very helpful.”

The car club has been a longtime supporter of her nonprofit organization too.

“Their help is very much appreciated,” she said.

Brad Mildenberger said his family’s company is happy to clear off their car lot to offer a space to host the annual car show. The company also supplies the hamburgers and hot dogs for the event with the proceeds going toward the subsequent donations to local nonprofits.

The location seems the perfect place to attract the large number of car enthusiasts that live in the Bitterroot Valley, Mildenberger said.

“It’s fun to bring them together in one place for the community to enjoy,” he said. “Everyone likes to look at old cars. You rarely get the opportunity to see most of them any other time of year.”

The event typically attracts between 75 and 90 classic cars.

“It wouldn’t be possible to do without all the sponsors, volunteers and participants,” Mildenberger said. “It is truly a community effort.”

That’s just what Wes and Debbie Young envisioned years ago when they volunteered to the lead on the project.

“People need to be more involved in their community,” Wes Young said. “There are so many people out there who don’t want to do anything anymore. It’s so nice to see so many step forward and want to help out.”

Reach reporter Perry Backus at 363-3300 or

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