What started as a private Facebook group for 15 close Jeep-owning friends, has turned into something much more.
“We used to be a secret page to set up meet-ups,” described the group’s founder, Vito DeMola, a former professional lacrosse player for the New York Lizards. “Now, we are using it to helps others; it’s amazing.”
On Saturday, the page operators for Maul Krawlers—which now has 300-plus members— are hosting a Jeep show at Tanner Park in Copiague to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
DeMola, who founded the page in 2016, is organizing his fundraiser around International Go Topless Day, which is an annual event where Jeep owners come together in unison to take the tops of their trucks for the summer. The Maul Krawlers group was one of 12 organizations to be picked to host such an event in New York State.
The Go Topless Day will run from noon to 4 p.m. at Tanner Park’s new full-service restaurant Sully’s Wharf.
“We have a ton of parking and a beautiful view,” said Dave Chiarella, a co-owner of the beachside eatery and longtime friend of DeMola.
The day’s goal is to raise enough money to help grant the wish of 17-year-old Venjiman Rivera Pena, who is diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia: he wants to go to Walt Disney World this summer.
According to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the current average cost of a wish is around $7,500.
To reach that mark, the Maul Krawlers will be charging an admission fee of $20 per Jeep, with all proceeds going toward the cause.
In addition to the Jeep show, the day will also feature vendors, live music, and raffles.
“We’re really excited for this event, it is something so different than anything we’ve ever been a part of,” said Kellie Ryan of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, “We feel so grateful and honored.”
Top: Three Jeeps from the Maul Krawlers group at a meet-up. (Courtesy.)