Woodruff car show raises $16K for Evanston man awaiting kidney

Gerry Rosendahl and his wife Audrey smile during a visit to Bear Lake in 2018. Gerry, who is in need of a kidney transplant, is the beneficiary of this year’s J-Rod’s Woodruff Classic Car Show, held June 20, in Woodruff, Utah. (COURTESY PHOTO)

WOODRUFF, Utah — For the ninth year, Jared Huffaker hosted “J-Rod’s Woodruff Classic Car Show” on Saturday, June 20. Huffaker holds an annual Rusted Revival Car Show in Randolph, Utah, and the Classic Car Show in Woodruff, Utah. Over the last nine years, he has raised more than $75,000 to help his friends and neighbors in need.

So far, 11 people have received donations from Huffaker’s fundraising efforts. Among those 11 are a woman needing a liver transplant, a young boy from Idaho with leukemia, a family whose house burned down, cancer patients and 2020’s recipient of the donation, Gerry Rosendahl of Evanston, who is waiting for a kidney donor.

“We are on Facebook and the show is becoming famous,” Huffaker told the Herald. “This year we had one person from Wisconsin who drove a 4,000-mile roundtrip to join us, and another came from Oregon. It’s been exciting to see the growth and to be able to continue to help people.”

Huffaker said more than 500 people attended this year to see the 76 entries placed throughout the streets of Woodruff. The organizers spread the entries out to accommodate for social distancing due to COVID-19 and encouraged visitors to practice safety measures.

Huffaker said there were 110 donated items online with 726 hits following the auction. The silent auction at the car show had 50 donated items including a quilt, a sunflower painting and a car. Huffaker said a special thank you went to Penny Fuit of Bear River, who purchased the quilt for $1,000.

This year, the live and online auctions raised $16,000 and will be used for Gerry Rosendahl’s living and travel expenses when he receives the kidney. There is also an account for donations set up in Gerry’s name at Trona Valley Credit Union in Evanston.

Rosendahl is 48 years old and was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease in 2006 when doctors found blood in his urine. He was diagnosed with diabetes in 2010. He is married and the father of two daughters, a son, and a grandson that he and his wife Audrey are raising. 

Rosendahl grew up in Woodruff until 1987, when the family moved to Evanston. He graduated from Evanston High School in 1990. He said his father started the Painter plant.

Rosendahl said he has had careers as a mechanic, diesel mechanic, tipple operator in the coal mines, and is currently employed with Wood PLC of North Shore Exploration and Production as the gas plant operator at the Painter plant.

“I just want to thank Penny, who bought the quilt, and everyone else for their support and donations, Rosendahl said, “… my old classmates from Evanston, my family, a friend from Laramie, and strangers from all over the U.S. who donated money and auction items, too.”

Rosendahl said it usually takes about eight years to find a match for a kidney, and he has been on the list for about a year and a half. Both of his kidneys are functioning at 14%; he said after three consecutive tests show functionality of less than 20%, which he’s had, they start preparing the patient for a potential transplant. He said he’s taken a day-long class in preparation, and submitted to several other medical exams as part of the long process. He said some local people have offered to give him a kidney as his sibling doesn’t match and his parents are too old. He is hoping to find a match soon.

“I have lived other places,” Rosendahl said, “but I always come back here. I love Evanston and I am amazed at the generosity of the people.”

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