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Utah County residents smash cars to vent frustration, raise money

Participants pay to vent their frustration on a vintage Jetta

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PROVO — Mayor John Curtis stood on the roof of a 1995 Volkswagen Jetta Thursday morning and drove a new sledgehammer through the windshield.

What was he thinking about as he swung the hammer so hard it slipped out of his hands and ended up inside the car?

"What do you think?" said Curtis. "It might be the Daily Herald, the Trib or the Deseret News."

Curtis's blow was the first delivered as part of a car-bashing fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Club of Utah County.

For $5 a swing, anyone could take a crack at bashing the car.

"This is a chance for people to take their anger and frustration out on the car and have some fun," said Mark Romney, chief executive officer of Atomic Penny, a marketing firm that organized the event. Romney is also a member of the board of directors for the Boys and Girls Club.

Some, like Ashley Wilson, found that cars are more durable than they look.

"I made those two marks," Wilson said after the sledgehammer had bounced off the driver's window twice. On her third try, she scored a direct hit, and the window shattered.

Romney said he relied on professionals volunteering their time to get the word out about the event. The car was donated by an Orem collision repair company. Publicity work was also donated, as well as the space for the car bashing on Provo's Canyon Road.

"Our only cost was the sledgehammer and the printing of the waivers," Romney said.

David Bayles, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Utah County, said the organization served about 2,000 children, mostly from Provo, ranging from grades 1 through 12 with its summer and after-school program. It also operates an Internet safety program that reaches about 180,000 kids.

Participants pay $10 to participate in the club's programs, although low income children can qualify for a scholarship.

"But our cost is $458 per child, so we have to come up with the funds somehow," said Sarah Duffy, the organization's office manager. "Our goal is to make it affordable for all children."

e-mail: mhaddock@desnews.com