Amanda Schneid and Chaz Stortz of Burfordville, Mo. pose after traveling about an hour and a half to the Blessing of the Jeeps event in Alto Pass, Ill. “I think everyone needs blessed” Stortz said on Aug. 15, 2020 (Tiffany Young | @photographybytiffa)
Amanda Schneid and Chaz Stortz of Burfordville, Mo. pose after traveling about an hour and a half to the Blessing of the Jeeps event in Alto Pass, Ill. “I think everyone needs blessed” Stortz said on Aug. 15, 2020

Tiffany Young | @photographybytiffa

Gallery: First ever blessing of the jeeps takes place at Bald Knob Cross

"We pray for our nation, we pray for our schools and we pray for help with this virus that’s attacking the world and we ask it all in the name of Jesus, amen.”

August 16, 2020

Around 350 Jeeps gathered at Bald Knob Cross in Alto Pass Illinois on Sat. Aug. 15 for the first annual blessing of the Jeeps.

The event was organized by Kurt Richeson and Joe Santhoff, members of the Jeep’N Shawnee group.

Richeson said they were being asked frequently about organizing a blessing of the Jeeps and the event was inspired by the annual blessing of the motorcycles that takes place at the Cross before motorcycle riding season. 

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Jeeps filled with families and friends began arriving at the cross in the morning and as they filed in a photographer took a picture of their vehicle and directed them to a parking space. 

On site there was a merchandise table selling T-shirts advertising the event and the Spud Shack food truck was on site. The first blessing of the Jeeps took place at 9:30 a.m. and the second was at noon.

John Reeder, a member of the Board of Directors for Bald Knob Cross and the Cross’s liaison to the Christian Motorcycle Ministry which hosts the blessing of the motorcycles, gave the blessing. 

“We are going to ask for help God for this riding season with the jeeps on and off road,” Reeder said. “We ask you God to bless us. We ask God that we can be seen whenever we are driving on the roads, that you’ll help with making our vehicles mechanically sound God, the things that we can’t do for ourselves God, give us indications where there [are] problems.” 

Reeder prayed for God to remind the drivers to maintain their vehicles properly, check their tires, respect one another on the road and always remember their cell phones. 

“God we ask you to protect us from the things we can’t protect ourselves from,” Reeder said. “Give us wisdom when we are making decisions on the road, when we are traveling on and off road.”

Reeder also prayed for help with COVID-19 during the blessing.

 “We pray for our nation, we pray for our schools and we pray for help with this virus that’s attacking the world and we ask it all in the name of Jesus, amen,” Reeder said.

In order to follow COVID-19 safety protocols, the blessing was transmitted through a short range FM broadcast. This allowed attendees to listen to the blessing in the safety of their vehicles. The only indoor building on site was the visitor center which required masks upon entry. 

Following each blessing, the Jeeps lined back up for a tour led by Jeep’N Shawnee members of the Shawnee hills. 

Kimberly Talley, co-director of Special Olympics region K, attended the event with her Jeep and volunteers Mary Miller and Valerie Densler, to “duck” Jeeps and raise awareness for the Southern Ducky Derby Dash to raise money for the Special Olympics.

The Ducky Derby Dash normally takes place in person each year at the Du Quoin state fairgrounds, but because of the pandemic the race will be moving online. 

(See more: here.)

After a Jeep was “ducked” the person who found the duck was instructed to go online, adopt their virtual $5 duck and challenge someone else with the duck and information tag from the Special Olympics. 

Richeson said ducking Jeeps has become an international thing to do.

“All it is is people take rubber ducks and they put on another person’s Jeep and say, you know, just have a good time, nice Jeep,” Richeson said. 

Richeson said the idea behind blessing the Jeeps was to bless riders, drivers and Jeeps and to ask for God’s help with keeping drivers and passengers safe.

“We want to have our vehicles sort of safe from harm and the riders within them safe from harm throughout the year,” Richeson said. 

Richeson said he doesn’t know if a lot of the Jeepers are Christians but that the event was about the camaraderie and having a group experience.

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