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A Fourth of July to Remember

Welcome to Hillenglade, Jennifer O'Neill's wonderful sanctuary.
Welcome to Hillenglade, Jennifer O’Neill’s wonderful sanctuary.

The Fourth of July, to me, usually means some find of car activity and watching what will always be the Firecracker 400 at Daytona in my vocabulary. Oh yea, and there is the fireworks as well!

I have found that as I grow older I tend to be more patriotic but also a little more cynical of our National Holidays which seem to be over commercialized. Today, many of us have become more interested in going to the lake or the big fireworks show than the true spirit of the Holiday. I can admit I am often one of those. However, this past 4th of July Katrina and I volunteered to help at Jennifer O’Neill’s Hillenglade Hope and Healing event in Nashville. This is an event to help returning Vets and their families deal with PTSD.

And arrive they did along with film crews from 2 local Network TV stations, RFD TV as well as a couple of independent video crews and the local Nashville newspaper.
The soldiers and their families arrived along with film crews from 2 local Network TV stations, RFD TV as well as a couple of independent video crews and the local Nashville newspaper.

In addition to our love of cars and our small collection we also love miniature donkeys and maintain of small heard of 30 on our farm. We have previously sold and donated miniature donkeys to Jennifer’s organization and were invited to volunteer this year to assist with “donkey painting”. Katrina and I spend a great deal of time in an effort to make our animals as “bullet proof” as possible. That is, we want them to work well and not spook in any situation. However, we also want our little animal friends to be as out going and lovable as possible to both adults, children and individuals with special needs.

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We were a little hesitant at how our four legged offspring might react to large groups of excited youngsters with paint and brushes in hand. The eager little ones grabbed their artistic tools and literally attacked the 18 month old miniature donkeys with an excitement that can only be compared to Christmas morning. Each child had their favorite color of the day and began transforming the miniature donkeys’ hairy coats into a child’s artistic masterpiece of color.

Some of the children were very deliberate in their painting.
Some of the children were very deliberate in their painting.
Bright colors for a happy day. Donkey fireworks?
Others were not; bright colors for a happy day. Donkey fireworks?
Front of the 1958 Brooks Corvette.

Katrina and I had the pleasure to meet Kix Brooks of Brooks and Dunn music fame. He was a really nice guy. He personally drove up in his 1958 Corvette. He told us he dragged the car home in the early 1980s well before the huge success had arrived for the duo. It was really rough and took a lot of work to get it on the road. He stated his wife was none too happy to see the car when he brought it home. Kix went on to state that the car is not perfect but he drives it all the time and it has went through many iterations over the years.

Kix Brooks’ 1958 Corvette.

We looked the car over pretty closely and agree with his assessment of its condition. It is no show car but looks and feels the part of a car that is loved, used, enjoyed and treasured. It is a family member that will be unconditionally loved for ever.

Interior of Kix Brooks’ 58 Vette with memorable jackets clearly visible for the unusually cool July morning in Tennessee.

It is really refreshing to meet an individual who can obviously have what ever car he wants and he chooses to not only own but drive a vintage Corvette he has owned for over 30 years. We now have another reason to be big Brooks and Dunn fans.

The Brooks and Dunn Kix Brooks personal logo jacket.

The day was a mixture of loving animals, a very funny clown, a great Country Music star, terrific entertainment, family games and delicious picnic food all provided to our heroes; American soldiers and their families, for free. It was a wonderfully rewarding day. I am sure we will be long time supporters of Jennifer and here great work. (If you don’t remember or are too young to know who Jennifer is please click on this link.)


One of our personal highlight of the day was meeting Kix Brooks (Brooks and Dunn). He stated he is a horse lover but can't believe the wonderful healing Jennifer does with the equine because every time he gets on a horse it seems like it is trying to kill him! LOL
One of our personal highlight of the day was meeting Kix Brooks (Brooks and Dunn). He showed up driving his personal 1958 Corvette.
One of the disadvantages of being a famous music star is you are always being interviewed by beautiful women!


Here is a link to one of the Newscasts on the event.

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I grew up and lived in Iowa for a good portion of my life before moving to Southern California. After 20+ years we now live outside Nashville Tennessee. I have been into cars since I was old enough to remember. I don't have a brand loyalty although I do prefer American Muscle especially the 1969/1970 NASCAR Aero Cars. (Check out our other web site at site) As long as it has four wheels and an engine I get excited. Few men are lucky enough to be able to share their passion for cars with the woman they love. Fortunately, my wife, Katriana, is also a gear head and many of our activities revolve around the cars. We have a small collection that includes at least one car from each of the Big Three. It includes a Best of Show winner, a survivor, a driver with lots of patina and several others. Katrina prefers all original cars while I like to modify them so we have a few of each. When we aren't playing with cars we are out working with or showing our miniature donkeys. You can see more about that part of our lives at

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