Recovering little hands helped transform the one-of-a-kind Explorer Sport.
There's any number of Fords that are probably currently being modified somewhere in America and around the world – Explorers among them. But this one wasn't upgraded by an aftermarket firm. This was customized by a group of pediatric cancer patients.
Ford donated the 2019 Explorer Sport to the Austin Hatcher Foundation, which was formed to help children battling the illness, and was named after a newborn who died from an inoperable brain tumor. The kids under the foundation's wing worked (quite literally) hands-on to make the sport-ute look just how they wanted, right down to the kayak on the roof.
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“Some kids got to work on the upholstery, some on the racks and some on the lights,” said Johnathan Myren, Austin Hatcher Foundation’s Industrial Arts Director. “It serves as a diversion from the things they’re going through, and we see progress in terms of their cognitive function and fine motor skills.”
The Blue Oval automaker isn't the only one to have contributed to the project, though. BFGoodrich provided the tires, Paragon the wheels, Borla the exhaust, and Wastegate Technologies and Wrap Artists helped design and install the vinyl wrap. Top Notch Customs LLC powder-coated key components, while Fully Loaded Interiors reupholstered the cabin in leather.
Other companies like Hypertech, Traxda, Yakima, Wizard Products, and Rigid Lights lent a hand as well. And the result, as you can see, is rather unique.
“We merged motorsports with therapy in an effort to make recovery fun and not sterile,” said Dr. Jim Osborn, who founded the organization with his wife Amy Jo after they lost their son. “There’s a lot of science and amazing technology in both the recovery therapy and motorsports industries, so with a little adaptation, they work very well together to improve recovery and long-term quality of life.”