The NOW Touch-A-Truck returned for its third year of family fun on Saturday, June 10 and Sunday, June 11 at the Thompson Speedway. The event saw crowds braving the heat for two days of activities, including an interactive display of 50 trucks and equipment, a youth mud run, equipment rides, a bounce house, face painting, and more. Proceeds from the event will support NOW scholarships and programs in the 10-town area of Northeast Connecticut.

The Touch-A-Truck began in 2015 as a free event featuring heavy equipment for children of all ages to climb and explore. In 2016 the event moved to the Thompson Speedway and grew into a fundraiser, with many more trucks and equipment on display. For 2017, the event expanded to include new attractions intended to engage families.

Reflecting the organization’s mission of promoting youth wellness, NOW partnered with Green Valley Crossing to host the “Tuff Buddy,” a mud run obstacle course designed exclusively for children. The course consisted of 12 elements with volunteers available to lend a helping hand at each obstacle. Children received free t-shirts courtesy of Deary’s Gymnastics, Deary’s Gym Supply, Byrnes Agency, Deary Bros. Mike’s Stand, Church Street Storage, and Cargill Chevrolet. The East Thompson Fire Department also assisted by hosing off the Tuff Buddy participants after their muddy run through the obstacle course.

Another new attraction was a chance to ride on four pieces of real construction equipment, including a bulldozer, loader, and two excavators. For a fee, children and parents were invited to climb in the cab of each item and dig in the dirt, assisted by a licensed operator. The result was an over-sized sandbox and a one-of-a-kind experience for participants.

Other activities included a bounce house, tethered balloon rides in the Re/Max hot air balloon, face painting, games provided by the New England Dairy & Food Council, and displays by the Natchaug River Young Marines, Boy Scout Troop 21, WPTP Football, Griffin Youth Hockey, and the Woodstock Middle School Playground Committee. At Saturday’s event the Killingly Brooklyn Rotary Club offered Amber Alert registrations for families.

In addition to the many activities available, the Touch-A-Truck featured an impressive display of vehicles. Many local businesses supported the event by lending their equipment to NOW for the weekend, including: Rawson Materials & Rawson Development, Jolley Concrete, Reynolds Logging, Lavallee Construction, Dalmik Well Drilling, Whitehouse Transport, Kahn Tractor & Equipment, Sunset Nurseries, K&S Harvesting, Dowgiewicz Construction, Central Construction Industries, Fort Hill Farms & the Farmer’s Cow, Earthworks Excavating and Landscaping, and many more. The Touch-A-Truck also saw participation from the National Guard, Connecticut State Police and Putnam Police Department and multiple local fire departments including East Putnam and East Killingly.

The event was made possible by the generosity of returning sponsors: Cargill Chevrolet, Gates Automotive Group and Putnam Ford. Each dealership featured vehicles on display for the entire weekend. Volunteer support was provided by members of the Green Valley Crossing congregation, Killingly F.C. coaches and soccer players, local teenaged gymnastics athletes, and NOW Board members. The Natchaug River Young Marines were present all weekend and assisted with parking, set-up/clean-up, and assisting event attendees.

The Touch-A-Truck is annual fundraiser for local non-profit Northeast Opportunities for Wellness (NOW). NOW’s mission is to serve children ages 3 to 14 in Northeast Connecticut, promoting youth wellness, regardless of access to financial resources.