By: Tom Fink | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: August 2019
Bill’s family members, including his siblings, Jacob and Casey Campbell (from left), family friend, Brenda Jones, Cindi Conner, mother and Sue Ryan, grandmother, host and volunteer Wings, Wheels and Wishes in his memory, the proceeds from which go to benefit Make-A-Wish.
To fully appreciate how much Wings, Wheels and Wishes means to organizer Cindi Conner, one must realize that it’s the result of a wish come true – the wish of Conner’s son, Bill Campbell.
“From a very early age, Bill had a love for cars and anything to do with them,” Conner said. “When he was seven, he could mimic the differentiating sounds made by the blinkers in each of our vehicles right down to the speed at which the blinking occurred. He read vehicle owner’s manuals for fun and loved to get behind the wheel and pretend to drive to all of his favorite places.”
“We used to host an annual car show in his honor to raise awareness of and money for the National Marfan Foundation, as Bill had a condition known as Marfan Syndrome,” she said. “One year, Team Crude, a Tulsa bicycling club, entered its custom-made bus in the car show and at that moment, the seed in Bill’s imagination had been planted.”
By the time Conner’s son was referred to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and his wish was approved, he knew exactly what he wanted: a school bus club house. He even drew a “blueprint” detailing how he wanted it arranged on the inside.
Vintage and classic cars and motorcycles and airplanes will be on display at the Wings, Wheels & Wishes event in Collinsville.
“Bill’s Club House was everything he wished for and more,” she said. “Bill came home that afternoon to about two hundred people in his yard and a beautiful, newly painted, fully outfitted club house that was all his to enjoy. Bill’s Club House served as his retreat and he spent many hours hanging out, playing video games, watching movies, ‘driving’ and having sleepovers on the bus.”
Sadly, Bill passed away Dec. 11, 2010, at the age of 18, but his memory lives on through Wings, Wheels & Wishes.
“In 2017, it was the 35th anniversary of the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Oklahoma, and they reached out to prior board members, volunteers, and wish families to see if we would be willing to have a fundraiser to commemorate the organization’s 35th year,” Conner said. “We agreed and our goal was set at $3,500.”
However, agreeing to host a fundraiser and planning it are two different things, Conner soon discovered.
“I wasn’t sure what to do, so I went to my neighbors and came up with the idea to do a car show AND a fly-in,” she said. “They said ‘Sure,’ so in about four weeks – which wasn’t much -- we put it together. I think we had about 86 vehicles show up, but I’m not sure how many planes came in that year. We didn’t keep track of the airplanes. We had some food vendors, and everyone had a good time. It was tiring – exhausting, even – but we raised more than our initial goal and in total, raised around $5,100.”
After her first time to plan and host the event, Conner had no plans to do so again, but as time passed, she softened on the idea of hosting another car show/fly-in.
“Time went by, and the more I thought about it, and the more time we had to plan it, the better it sounded, and we hosted not one but two of these events – one here and one in Skiatook, and this time, we raised $10,000 for Make-A-Wish Oklahoma,” she said.
Wings, Wheels and Wishes itself includes a car show – vintage and unique models – and a fly-in, at which, pilots from across the region converge on the Collinsville property for fellowship, camaraderie and a fun afternoon.
“We have food trucks, ice cream, a live DJ, raffle items, several silent auction items, and more,” she said, “and this year, we’re going to have a station where children can make paper airplanes or styrofoam gliders and see which one goes the furthest.”
Food trucks scheduled for the day include Route 66 Fry Bread, Robyn’s Hamburgers, Worley’s Ice Cream Truck, Slush Face Slushies and The Daily Grind Express Coffee.
Raffle and auction items will include: $100 in scratch-off lottery tickets; OSU themed basket with soft-sided cooler, mini helmet, flag & 2 koozies; a remote start with install and a Pioneer sub-woofer system and install from Code Zero Customs, Date Night basket, gift cards to various eating establishments, and a wine tasting basket, to name a few.
However, for all the fun to be had, for Conner, the event is always in honor of her son, Bill. “Anything I can do to help the Make-A-Wish Foundation, I will eagerly do – my family and I will forever be grateful to them,” she said. “Being able to do so in memory of my son brings me some peace.”
Wings, Wheels & Wishes Fly-In, Car & Bike Show is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24, at Airman Acres Airport in Collinsville. For more information, email eat0@eau0eav0eaw0 or call Cindi at 918-510-3423.
Bill Campbell, the inspiration and spirit of the Wings, Wheels & Wishes fundraiser, which benefits Make-A-Wish Foundation of Oklahoma.