Thunder on the Lot was founded in June of 1995 by Ron Emard. Ron is the dealer principal of Antelope Valley Harley Davidson in Lancaster, California. Ron is known for his untiring devotion to kids in need and has been actively involved as a private citizen and business leader since moving to the Antelope Valley in 1983.
Thunder on the Lot started as a small car and motorcycle show on the lot of the Robertson Palmdale Honda dealership. Formerly the managing partner of Honda Ron recognized the need to respond to the rising child abuse statistics in the Antelope Valley. He was determined to do something about it. Thunder on the Lot became a fun and unique way for the entire community to enjoy car and motorcycle show and shines, live band performances, raffle prizes, good food and all the while raising funds that eradicated the social crisis of child abuse. Ron’s motto to this day is, “it should never hurt to be a kid.”
Thunder operated at the Honda dealership for the first eight years then moved to a local park near the dealership to accommodate the growth. That location lasted only two years when moving to a larger city park in Palmdale became a necessity. After two years at the second park location Thunder moved once again to its final home and present location, the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds. The event operates over a two day period and occupies over 100 acres. As the event has grown, so have the donations, with $3,000 collected the first year to an upwards of $336,000 collected in recent years. Since 1995, Kids Charities events have collected over $4.5 million dollars, of that $3.8 million was raised from Thunder on the Lot proceeds. Funds go directly to supporting the Kids Charities recipients.
The first eight years of Thunder’s fundraising proceeds were delegated to the Children’s Center of the Antelope Valley for child abuse prevention therapy and services. Yet large sums were being raised and it quickly became apparent that it was time to spread the dollars out to more children with dire needs, hence the birth of the Kids Charities of the Antelope Valley.
The Kids Charities of the Antelope Valley, now referred to as Kids Charities, proudly supports numerous local charities that direct all of their funds towards assisting disadvantaged kids of our community. The Kids Charities is managed by wife of founder, Yvette Emard, and co-director of Thunder since 1999. The nonprofit organization does not typically operate as a direct-service provider. This is the role of the non-profit organizations they support. Rather, the fully developed Kids Charities has five primary functions:
Fundraising: to raise money and in-kind donations efficiently.
Community Service: to promote and coordinate volunteer support of service providers.
Fund Distribution: to distribute charitable funds to the most effective service providers.
Community Building: to build alliances among charities, businesses and other entities in support of the community.
Publicity: to execute support through events, promotions and awareness campaigns
The success of Thunder is attributed to the collective efforts of many; Kids Charities staff, AV Harley-Davidson employees, numerous local businesses, hundreds of volunteers and a supportive community truly making Thunder what it is today. It’s a genuine grass-roots event that happens each year as a result over 1,000 enthusiastic volunteers.
Untiring commitment, dedication, money and support are the ingredients contributed by all of the committee members and volunteers. “If it weren’t for them Thunder simply wouldn’t exist,” says Ron Emard, founder of Thunder on the Lot.
The 2017 Thunder on the Lot recipients includes:
Antelope Valley College Foundation
Antelope Valley Community Clinic
Antelope Valley Partners for Health
Antelope Valley Guild of Children's Hospital
Antelope Valley Saddle-Up Therapeutic Riding
Antelope Valley Saving Grace
Boys & Girls Club of Antelope Valley
Child and Family Guidance Center
Desert Christian School Scholarships
Desert Vineyard School Scholarships
Grace Resource Center
High Fives for Stacey
Jacob Hefter Foundation
Lancaster Kiwanis Youth Scholarship
Palmdale Lions Eyecare Program
Royal Family Kids Camp
United Community Action Network
Valley Oasis Shelter
We will strive each year to make a positive difference in the lives of the kids who need it most. The disadvantages, the hardship and the challenge these kids face motivate us constantly to focus on fulfilling their needs. We will accomplish our goals through special events and public awareness campaigns. We take pride in knowing we have already made a difference and welcome the challenge to beat our future goals. The Kids Charities of the Antelope Valley will continue its mission to serve the innocent children of our community.
For more information contact:
Yvette Emard, Event Co-Director and Executive Director of Kids Charities