A North Texas woman, her friends and a ton of Jeeps are making a difference in so many lives.
Rebecca Sparks is a proud member of the North Texas Jeep Club, a group of like-minded Jeep and 4x4 owners.
Before the pandemic, the group used to focus more on hosting Jeep meets and fundraisers to show off their rides.
“I think that’s what helped me enjoy being a part of this club is the big hearts,” she said.
But once COVID-19 brought everyone into lockdown, Sparks said an idea sparked in her head.
“We had a fellow Jeeper do a parade for his son that I joined in on. And from that, it made me think we could do this for so many children that can’t celebrate their birthdays,” she said.
The latest news from around North Texas.
She wanted to keep the wheels rolling and bring joy to families who need it most. So she rounded up her Jeepers and started DFW Birthday Parades.
The group aims to raise the spirits of children who are lonely or sick by bringing a cascading parade of festive Jeeps to their neighborhoods. The Jeeps have paraded through the streets for many children who are battling cancer.
“It breaks my heart when I see a child suffering. And for them, knowing that they can’t have a gathering for their birthday on this big day, it breaks my heart more than anything,” said Sparks. “We’re not going to allow that to happen if we can."
The crew brings a parade of Jeeps decked out in balloons, confetti poppers, toys, and music to drive by family homes and celebrate the children, who otherwise couldn't leave their homes due to the pandemic.
Sparks even made special birthday shirts to hand out as along with other gifts for the kids.
Her group has hosted more than 200 parades covering hundreds of miles across North Texas. There are 33,000 members in the Jeep club so from Granbury to Gainesville, no city or town is off-limits for them to send the Jeeps.
“We have a lot of support, we can make it happen,” Sparks said. “My participants, if I ask anything they pretty much say when and where.”
Sparks is the driving force behind the cause. She also does this all while juggling two jobs and rarely misses a parade.
“I try to make every single parade that I can. I’ve probably missed a handful but I’ll do it, I’ll drive it. Every smile is worth every mile,” she said.
About 30 to 40 Jeeps ride in each event. During the busy point last year, Sparks said they were hosting parades almost every day. They were so busy, she had to designate Wednesday as a rest day for the Jeepers.
Fire and police departments have even caught wind of the cause and joined in on the fun.
What’s more – all of this is self-funded through the Jeep community. They do not accept donations.
“This is out of all goodness of our heart. We love kids. If you ever participated in one, you would understand how good it feels and you would want to do it again and again,” said Sparks.
If you want to brighten a child's day with a Jeep parade, contact DFW Birthday Parades on Facebook and message them a request.
If you drive a Jeep and want to get involved, you can join the NTJC Facebook Group.