From left, Jesse Moore, Dalton Lemert, Jacob Thatcher, Alex Radelich and Theodore Thatcher.

From left, Jesse Moore, Dalton Lemert, Jacob Thatcher, Alex Radelich and Theodore Thatcher.

A host of RV industry companies are donating a motorhome to a group of college-aged men on a mission to “inspire an epidemic of kindness in our society.”

Lippert Components Inc., Thor Motor Coach, Atwood Mobile Products LLC, Patrick Industries Inc., Dicor Corp. and MITO Corp. have teamed up to donate a new motorhome to ARK Project Now, a grassroots organization determined to commit Acts of Random Kindness (ARK).

The new motorhome, still to be determined, will replace a well-used 1994 Damon Intruder, said Theodore Thatcher, one of the men behind ARK Project Now. The group has owned the RV since April and has put 7,000 miles on it, most of that on a trip to San Francisco.

“Let me tell you, driving an RV through San Francisco is not fun,” said Thatcher, who’s from Elkhart, Ind. “(The Intruder) is great for what we’re doing, but the amenities on it are … well, I’ve got to be honest. They’re not that great,” Thatcher said, adding the shower hardly works and the refrigerator doesn’t work at all. Worse yet, 110-degree temperatures in Las Vegas melted the power cord.

The idea for a motorhome donation, which is expected to take place in about a month, started with Jason Lippert, CEO of Lippert, who was first approached to help support ARK Project Now, which largely consists of young men from northern Indiana. Thatcher, his brother Jake, Jesse Moore and Eric Ashley are all from Elkhart. Dalton Lemert is from South Bend. Another member, Alex Radelich, is from Tulsa, Okla.

Radelich, a Purdue University graduate, is credited with being the founder of the group and their cause.

When he started looking into the group, Lippert said he couldn’t help but notice the motorhome.

“What I saw is these guys are trying to spread acts of random kindness and their mode of transportation is an RV. They just took it out to California and made stops all along the way,” Lippert said. “I thought we can help, but maybe there’s a bigger story here.”

Lippert called Bob Martin, president of Thor Industries Inc., and Jeff Kime, president of Thor Motor Coach, who immediately pledged their support. As it turned out, Martin’s daughter went to school with Thatcher and some of the others in ARK Project Now.

Thatcher said he and the others with ARK Project Now are looking forward to their new home on wheels. “We’re ecstatic,” he said. “From the bottom of our hearts, we’re thankful, we’re grateful. We’ll wear the Elkhart name and the RV industry name proud. I guess you could say we’ll Go RVing – with a cause.”

According to their website, in December of 2012, Radelich was sitting in his Purdue dorm room after finishing an exhausting week of final exams. In an attempt to wind down after the long semester, he flipped on the television and began watching “Evan Almighty,” a movie starring Steve Carell and Morgan Freeman that gives a comedic Hollywood twist to the story of Noah’s Ark.

There is a point in the film in which Carell asks “How can we change the world?” to which Morgan Freeman, playing God, replies, “One act of random kindness at a time.”

It was this simple movie scene that inspired Radelich to make a change in his life and that of his close friends. But it has gone beyond that. Through what they do, they have touched the lives of countless others. Acts of random kindness, they explain, can include anything from purchasing coffee for a stranger, providing meals for the homeless, or going out of your way to hold the door for someone.

“We truly believe that one act of kindness, no matter how small, has the potential to change the world. Because of this core belief, we have made it our mission to perform acts of random kindness and recruit others to do the same,” reads the website.

After performing an act of random kindness, ‘ARKers’ are encouraged to leave behind an ARK card, urging the recipient to pay it forward. This sets off a chain reaction and creates a cycle of kindness that impacts people we may never even meet,” the group says on their website.

For more information or to support ARK Project Now, click here. To support the coalition donating a new motorhome, contact Liz Hinkleman of Lippert Components at [email protected] or by calling (574) 312-6361 (work) or (574) 222-0511 (cell).