Three teams headed from the Alfred State School of Applied Technology campus in Wellsville to Connecticut Thursday for the annual Fireball Run event.
A life-sized trivia game that seeks to aid in the recovery of America’s missing children, Fireball Run begins Sept. 25 this year and ends Oct. 3, covering eight cities and 2,000 miles. This season will feature four astronauts from four nations, four celebrity teams, and 40 rally teams, who will start in Hartford, CT, then head to Queen Anne’s, MD; Williamsburg, VA; Topsail Island, NC; Florence, SC; Liberty County, GA; Sanford, FL; and finish in Cocoa Beach, FL.
The three groups that left from Wellsville are Team Alfred State, Team Allegany (Gretchen Hanchett, executive director of the Allegany County Chamber and Office of Tourism, and Deb Root, Allegany County Legislator and former Alfred State director of Marketing and Communications) and Team Visit Salamanca (John Sheehan, executive director of the Seneca Salamanca Chamber of Commerce, and Ward “Skip” Wilday, senior vice president at Morgan Stanley).
The college’s team will be driving the same vehicle as last year, a 1987 Mercedes 300 SDL, donated by Mark Crounse, who graduated from Alfred State in 1975 with a degree in automotive service technician. The team consists of automotive service technician majors Sebastian Bruno, of Penn Yan, and Jake Landuyt, of Clifton Springs; and Kent Johnson, associate professor and chair of the Automotive Department. The college is a sponsor of the event again this year.
“We again are thrilled to be part of Fireball Run, in which students get to be part of an adventure across the East Coast of the US with celebrities,” said Dr. Craig Clark, executive director and dean of the School of Applied Technology. “Two years ago, one of the Alfred State student competitors landed his dream job at Local Motors in Phoenix, AZ, connecting with the Rally Fighter team at the event.”
Among the speakers at Thursday’s send-off was State Sen. Catharine Young, R, C, I-Olean. She noted the importance of Fireball Run, in that, through this effort, a number of missing children have been recovered.
“I want to say to everyone who is going, you’re going to have a blast, but at the same time, you’re going to learn, you’re going to share your talents, you’re going to have a cool adventure, and you’re going to do something that will make a difference,” she said. “I want to wish you safe travels, go to it, and have a really, really great time. Congratulations to everyone who made this happen.”
Being the tech team, Johnson said, the Alfred State group will be expected to diagnose and advise owners of vehicles with mechanical issues and in some cases repair the vehicles if possible.
“Since a good percentage of the vehicles involved are typically unique or vintage vehicles, this year’s Fireball Run should be as exciting and challenging as last year’s,” Johnson said.
When asked how he felt about going on this year’s Fireball Run, Bruno said, “It’s honestly an absolute honor. I decided to come to Alfred State for something I loved doing and to get an opportunity like this is awesome, to say the least.”
Landuyt said, “I’m excited about going. I remember seeing the send-off for it last year and I thought, ‘Wow, this is pretty neat.’ Never did I think I’d be able to do something like this. It’s pretty cool.”
For a full schedule, updates, and to watch the action live, visit www.fireballrun.com.
Shown in photo above are the members of the 2015 Alfred State Fireball Run team, along with the 1987 Mercedes 300 SDL they will be driving in the event. From left to right are automotive service technician students Sebastian Bruno, of Penn Yan, and Jake Landuyt, of Clifton Springs; and Kent Johnson, associate professor and chair of the Automotive Department.