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November 01, 2023 | NEW JERSEY Ron Jeffers, New Jersey Editor
This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.

Jim Vangorder is a retired FDNY firefighter, that was assigned to midtown Manhattan's Ladder Co. 24. Before his career started in New York, he was a volunteer firefighter in Ridgefield. He was active in the Bergen County borough between 1982 and 1999. Vangorder said his family has served the community since 1962, and he is currently an associate member of Hose Co. 2.

On December 25th, 2022, Vangorder won a raffle. His prize? A Jeep Gladiator. The raffle was sponsored by Camp Freedom, of Carbondale, Pa. 

Camp Freedom is a non-profit organization that provides outdoor healing adventures for disabled first responders, veterans and their families, as well as for Gold Star families, at no charge to them. 

The organization acquired two Jeep Gladiator models that were 2020 stock units. One in red and one in black. They were sent to Counts Kustoms, in Las Vegas, to be customized to pay tribute to all six branches of the military. The black vehicle for the military and the red vehicle for first responders. The hoods on each vehicle were hand airbrushed to respectfully honor those services, along with Stars and Strips down the sides.

Several vendors joined in and supplied their products for the Camp Freedom project. Their products included wheels, tires, superchargers, performance suspensions, performance exhausts, off road lighting, winches, seating upgrades, and much more. 

Both vehicles appeared on the History Channel's “Counting Cars” TV show. The vehicles were transported across the country, on trailers, to raise awareness for the Camp, and to sell tickets along the way. 

Vangorder saw the “Counting Cars” episode, which originally aired on October 6th, 2021, and he purchased a ticket for the raffle. 

Vangorder was the first winner. He had a choice and took the red Jeep, which honors first responders. 

After winning the special Jeep, Vangorder found himself on a new mission in life. He travels to events, fund raisers, etc., related to first responders and veterans, or any event that can give exposure for Camp Freedom. 

If you see this Jeep on the road, or at an event, say “Hello” to Jim Vangorder and thank him for his service.

More information on Camp Freedom can be obtained at campfreedompa.org. 

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Ron JeffersNew Jersey Editor

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