My grandfather taught me to drive the same way he learned: through the fields, in a beat-up work truck, at age 12. It would be several years before I operated an automatic transmission on a paved street. Boring!
I haven’t been Jeepin’ — yet — but I have been off-road, and when this magazine launched, I thought that’s all we would be writing about. It’s a pretty deep well. We would find experts to talk about how to navigate trails, conquer obstacles and winch properly. We would interview Jeepers, techs and suppliers about modifying, customizing and properly maintaining Jeeps, investing in equipment, and testing new products. That’s enough to fill a magazine.
Two issues in, I’m forced to admit I was way off. Off-roading is only the half of it. Jeepers are rugged individuals, but you belong to a community dedicated to volunteer work, fundraising and, at times, supreme self-sacrifice. We are writing and editing articles about Jeepers supporting local causes, aiding search-and-rescue efforts, and leading convoys for hurricane relief. It’s impressive as hell.
Our publisher and Jeeper-in-chief, David Gesualdo, knew all this going in. He’s a Central Floridian and a member of ODT Jeepers. His brother, Eric, volunteers for the Pasco County Sheriff’s search-and-rescue squad and manages sales for Jeepin’ Central Florida. They have seen Jeepers come to each other’s aid at home and on the trail, adopt families at Christmas, raise money for Ronald McDonald House, collect and deliver supplies for the victims of natural disasters, and volunteer time, money and the use of their vehicles to any number of causes.
That’s the spirit that informs JCF. This magazine must serve as an honest reflection of your community and your priorities. In 2018, we will take it to the next level. At David’s behest, we are going to recognize some number of Jeepers of the Year. You will have the opportunity to nominate individuals for their outstanding and selfless efforts and their contributions to any worthy cause in the 2017 calendar year.
Does anyone come to mind? Don’t answer yet, but do give it some thought, and stay tuned. We will keep you updated and let you know when and where to submit your nomination. Until then, ride safe. And if you have an idea for an article, let’s hear it.