In-Depth with Brad Byrd: Hyrdofest suit returned


Brad Byrd was joined by the Director of Hyrdofest Randy Lientz and Aurora Outreach Team member Natasha Goodge to talk about a Hyrdofest racing suit gone missing, and a homeless person doing the right thing.


Brad Byrd- Welcome to In-Depth. Tonight the story of a Hydrofest competitor’s race suit, a homeless person making a discovery in a downtown alley and the power of doing the right thing. A driver’s race suit went missing, presumably stolen along the riverfront after the Labor Day weekend event. A homeless person later found that suit and, well, took it. Finders keepers, losers weepers. Fair game.  

Well, I’m joined tonight by Randy Lientz, the Director of Hydrofest, and Natasha Goodge, the Outreach Team Leader at Aurora, a local nonprofit that provides housing and support for people who are homeless. They are going to help us share this rather remarkable story. Randy, first, this racing suit we have right here, if we can get a shot of it, and it is uh, the price of this suit for starters.

Randy – It was right around $2,000 to have it made. There’s only one of them.

Brad – And if we can lose the font right there, we might get a better look at it. And this basically was on, you tell me, on a trailer bed down on the riverfront and it just disappeared.

Randy – Yeah. After security was already over, the event was long-since over, and it was just laid out and the team forgot to put it in the truck. And, um, some time over the evening, Sunday evening into Monday morning, it turned up missing. 

Brad – And Natasha, you met a gentleman who is homeless and he shared kind of a remarkable story, the fact that he just, he saw it a few blocks away in an alley, and it was just laying there, so he took it. What was your impression of him when you met him?

Natasha – He said that uh, it was colorful, it stood out in the alley and when he saw it, he thought if I don’t pick it up, someone else will. And he washed it. It meant a lot to him that he washed it. And when he realized it was missing – he saw Randy’s number. A friend of his called is what he explained. They made a connection and gave it back. And it meant a lot to him that he gave it back cleaner. He washed it and gave it back better than he found it. 

Brad – And, you know, this kind of gives us the, well, the dynamics of the people who are homeless, because there’s no one stereotype of this. Tell me about that. 

Natasha – Yeah, there’s a different story for every person experiencing homelessness. I think, what I realize is people want to be valued. And that’s something that people experiencing homelessness miss out on the most. So this gave him a chance to do that, to have that. I wish we had more opportunities like that. Maybe that… don’t put someone else at risk, but…

Brad – And Randy, the gentleman who wears this suit when he’s in the hydroplane, he’s a remarkable fellow himself, because when he learned that this gentleman brought this back, he did something. His name is Cal Phipps, the driver. Tell me about that.

Randy – He’s from the Detroit area. And he called me, and first of all reported that it was missing, and then once we found it, and I explained that this was a homeless person, he said, “Well we have to do something to take care of him.” He immediately said I’m going to start putting together a box of warm winter clothing and sweatshirts and fleece and gloves and so forth. We I return this suit to him Friday at a race in Ohio, we plan to exchange that for a box that I will bring back and let Aurora distribute. 

Brad – And this is not easily cleaned, and the fact that he did launder this in an attempt to get it in pretty good shape, it was also looked at by a local cleaner.

Randy – Clayton’s cleaners. It has some very expensive material in it. His washing it did no harm to it, but we wanted to get it one step cleaner, and they were willing to do that to help out the  story.
Brad – And, Natasha, the fact that we have so many different, you know, individuals in our homeless community…this gentleman seemed to kind of fit in between the extremes, fair to say?

Natasha – Yea, I think so. We have some great programs in Evansville to serve people with the highest barrier and the most vulnerable. You know, as a society we are well equipped to help people who have a lot of skills move on, but sometimes people have a physical injury that holds them back. They do mostly physical work, and they’re kind of let out of that system, and then over time, being out of those systems, some more things kind of set in place. So, it’s tricky whenever people are kind of squeezed out. 

Brad – No charges were filed against this man.

Natasha – I don’t believe so.

Brad – And his reaction…did he feel like he was in trouble or something?

Natasha – I think when we saw it on social media, he thought he better return it or he’ll be in trouble. It’s obviously very identifiable. But no, I don’t think he felt necessarily guilty. He stumbled across something unique and picked it up. I think most of us probably would.

Brad – And Randy, I know that there are so many stories with Hyrdofest and it’s still kind of in it’s infancy. It will be back next year?

Randy – Absolutely.

Brad – And this was kind of an unusual story near the end of it, but it did show there are good people here in the Evansville community and this gentleman who saw something, that I wouldn’t expect to find in an ally, got it back to its rightful owner.

Randy – Well, the hyrdoplane community…I’ve heard from so many other drivers he competes with, other race teams, his sponsor wants to support Aurora and there are some contributions coming into Aurora just because of this homeless person doing the right thing. Knowing what the right thing to do, and stepping forward. So, something that could have been a misfortune…something good came out of it.

Brad – And Aurora is glad to see that because Aurora does a lot of support for people who really need it in the community. Alright, Randy Lientz, the director of Hydrofest, and Natasha Goodge, who’s an outreach team leader…didn’t think I’d have you two together on an In-Depth but there was a connection there this year and it was a good connection. Thank you.

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