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Fired up for Fireball Run

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Maine team competes in 8 day road race to recover missing children

BANGOR - The Fireball Run is officially underway and rolling. Forty teams took off on this eight day, 2,500-mile adventure rally last weekend in Ohio and they'll come to a screeching halt in Bangor, which is the finish line of the event, on Saturday, Sept. 29. But this outing is so much more than a road race - it's a race to recover America's missing children.

"Each team that participates in this event is given a child to talk about and as you can see on our car, Ayla Reynolds is the child for our Maine team," explained Kerrie Tripp, executive director for the Greater Bangor Convention and Visitors Bureau. "At each city the teams visit, they are asked to talk about and pass out information on each child they're representing including posters and baseball cards so we can make sure we're doing everything we can to get the word out."

Twenty-month-old Reynolds went missing from her father's Waterville home last December. Searches of that home and dives in the nearby Kennebec River have failed to uncover any new leads into the disappearance of the toddler.

"I have had the misfortune of losing my only child in an automobile accident, and I thought it was the worst loss that you can suffer. I can't imagine the pain these parents suffer through on a daily basis not knowing where their child is. If we can do anything to help with that, it would make life worth living," said Timber Tina Scheer, who is one of the members of the Maine Riverdrivers Fireball Run team.

The teams are also asked to use their brain power more than horse power en route in order to complete tasks along the way and earn points. Carolann Ouellette, the director of the Maine Office of Tourism and the other member of the Maine Riverdrivers, is excited to participate in the race and help put the Queen City in the national spotlight.

"This is a remarkable opportunity to make a difference in the Ayla Reynolds piece, but secondarily it's fun and it's a great way to highlight what wonderful things we have in this area of the state," said Ouellette.

Last week, Ouellette and Scheer learned they'd be driving a 2012 Chevy Traverse throughout the race, thanks to the generosity of Quirk Chevrolet.

"I know it will be great on the road and comfortable," said Jack Quirk. "I think we've got a good team, and Carolann and Tina will have a great ride."

The public is invited to welcome home the Maine Riverdrivers and the other 39 teams at the Hollywood Casino finish line at approximately 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29. A parade displaying all the vehicles used in this year's Fireball Run Northern Exposure Race will take place following the completion of the event.

"In terms of attracting visitors to this area, all we have to do is get them here once to keep them coming back," said Jack Osborne, general manager of Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway. "There's a buzz about this place that has everyone from Bret Michaels to Ron Howard singing its praises on social media and Fireball Run will be bringing people here in some pretty special vehicles."

To watch live coverage of the race, log on to www.fireballrun.com.

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