When bad things happen, we say “everything happens for a reason.” Sometimes that’s not enough. Sometimes the worst things in life have no answer, but there is always help.
Jon Snyder is one of the biggest dirt track racing fans you’ll meet. His Dad used to take him to the track as a kid and he tried to pass that on to his 3-year-old son Lucas.
“I kind of felt like I brainwashed him on it,” Jon said. “I always did everything I could to support him and this is what we did on Saturday nights a lot; Williams Grove.”
In a way, you could say Lucas was born to be a dirt track fan. He was named after Jon’s favorite driver, Mechanicsburg’s Lucas Wolfe.
“I just admired him that much.”
Wolfe was flattered and surprised to learn about the little fan that shared his name.
“It was a first time experience for me. I mean, it’s really cool when you think about it. Of course, he’s a great little kid,” Wolfe said. “The whole family has been good to me over the years and, of course, the whole thing’s a nightmare really.”
The nightmare happened Sept. 17, 2016.
Jon and his fiance weren’t at the dirt track that night. They decided to go to a concert in Philadelphia. It was just the second time they had ever left Lucas. He was at Jon’s sister-in-law’s house. Lucas was playing in the driveway. A car pulled in and accidentally ran over him.
“I get a phone call saying I need to get to Hershey Medical,” Jon said. “I drive to Hershey in total disbelief that it was even my son. I got there and he was gone.”
Jon remembers leaving Jon at the house that day. Lucas was already having fun playing when he and his fiance decided to leave.
“We didn’t even get to say goodbye.”
The one comfort that night came from a race at Selinsgrove. Lucas Wolfe finished first. Jon believes that was his son’s way of letting him know he made it to heaven.
“I believe that. I truly do. I believe that to the bottom of my heart.”
The following months were hard for Jon and his family, but the dirt track community was there to provide support. The Beer Hill Gang, a local fan racing organization, was there from the beginning.
“They saved my life,” Jon said. “You lose a child like I did and have people reach out to you and come to you, not only with prayers, messages and cards but donations.”
Now, Jon is trying to give back. This Sept. 9 at Port Royal Speedway, Jon will give out the Lucas Snyder Tough Luck Award. All the money he raises via donations will go to the last place finisher.
“My son was 3 years old. He never did anything to hurt anyone. Tough luck, you know. I’ve done many things to hurt many people and I’ve always been given a second chance. He was never.”
The award will also serve as a way to memorialize Lucas.
“I want everyone to know that I did have a son. I want them to know his name and I want them to know that he existed.”
Donations to the Lucas Snyder Tough Luck Award can be made at GoFundme.com