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May-26-2008 12:26printcomments

Night of Fire '08 is Tonight!

The event is set for tonight in the Salem Evangelical Church parking lot on N. Liberty Street.
Photos and video by Tim and Bonnie King

(SALEM, Ore.) - Oregon hot rod and custom car enthusiasts get together each summer for a very special celebration called "Night of Fire." In fact, the gathering is earning a reputation for being one of the state's top events for cars, and it also is an event with a heart.

The idea is to bring hundreds of cars and thousands of enthusiasts together for an event in the Salem area that is family friendly and downright memorable. So far they have had no problem pulling this off, and each year it gets better.

Highlights at this get together include the lighting of the jet car, drag racers, low rider hops, and plenty of great food from vendors like Adams Rib Smokehouse.

In spite of all the fun, there is a serious message that accompanies the Night of Fire: that is the ongoing needs of sick children in our community. This year's event as in previous years, will raise funds to help a local family who is dealing with something most never do. Attending and supporting the event helps this family. Night of Fire Benefit Car Show History

Rich Bailey, who is a local race car driver, and Jim Billings, car show promoter, were approached and asked for help in raising money for a very ill person. The benefactor’s insurance coverage left much of the medical costs untouched. Thus the first Night of Fire was created in 2000.

Billings says the desire and goal of this unique benefit car show is to help a community member who faces catastrophic circumstances.

"The venue is a car show which also promotes a racing theme. Originally, the show was held at Rock-n-Rogers on Market Street and was held there for two years."

"Night of Fire" used to be called “Hot Summer Nights.” Due to the increasing size of the show, the event was moved to the GI Joe’s and Office Depot parking lot. The name of the show was also changed to accommodate the addition of a nitro car.

In 2005 “Nitro Nights” moved to a new location that would accommodate an ever-increasing amount of participants and spectators. The Albertson’s and Rite Aid parking lot in South Salem held the “Night of Fire.” The name change seemed to better describe one of the main attractions a jet powered Funny Car. With the increasing success a board was formed with Rich Bailey, Jim Billings, Mike Adams and Lee Morgan.

Again, in 2006, the venue’s location needed to be moved: Morning Star Community Church agreed to sponsor the Night of Fire. (see video below)

Lee Morgan says the response was over-whelming.

"Participants brought their vehicles from all over Oregon and Washington. Not only did the show feature so many entries, whose fees went directly to the beneficiary of the show, but food vendors also donated their proceeds. Adam’s Rib, Papa’s Pizza and Sweet Treats Ice Cream provided a local flavor and the National Guard also brought their rock wall for climbers to venture."

Morgan added that face painting, and bouncy rooms rounded off the evening.

One of the most amazing parts of the show was the donation of a car to the mother of the beneficiary of the show’s proceeds. The car was over-hauled and then a custom paint job topped off the gift. The young mother had no transportation to the daily visits to Doernbecher Hospital where her son spent so many months.

For 2007 another local church, Salem Evangelical Church, enthusiastically agreed to sponsor the 2007 No Meth Night of Fire Show. Bailey says an incredible percentage of families have been affected by the meth problem in our local communities.

Marion County District Attorney Walt Beglau stated, “Since 2005 over 2000 kids in Marion County have gone into protective custody” due to some aspect of meth.

That is 100 kids per month. 80% of the inmates in the Marion County jail have used meth. Bailey says the proceeds from the Night of Fire benefit show are well used and are greatly needed in our community.

"Rather than support one beneficiary, we hope to touch many. It was estimated that 2500 people attended. Our best yet," Bailey said.

To date the Night of Fire Benefit Show has raised approximately $49,000.

Mike Adams of Adams Rib Smokehouse says this show is like no other you have seen.

"With all the family oriented fun like a dunk tank, bouncy room, face painting, and games it’s become more like a vehicle carnival. We feature vehicles from almost every motor sport and include antique, street rods, muscle cars, tuner cars and race cars. We have also seen Junior Dragsters, nitro and top fuel dragsters, off-road buggies, custom bikes and hydraulic low riders."

The organizers say the highlight of each show is the jet dragster flame show, adding that this show is truly a coming together of variety for the sole purpose of raising money to aid a person from our community who has a great financial need.

Lee Morgan says the event features new technology but carries with it the spirit of another time, "It is our belief that the reason the Night of Fire is so successful is based on the traditions of old: barn raising! Work parties were put together to help neighbors in need, and that same premise is the foundation for our benefit car show."

He says they are asking local business to donate items or services that will help to increase their customer base, and then we raffle and auction off these items. 100% of the proceeds go to the benefactor. No person who participates in the show, including the organizers, receives any financial compensation. This is truly built on the desire to help someone who has a need, and we believe that we can help with that need.

Bryon Michel Poli’s Story

Bryon Michael Poli was born on Aug 29th 2004 in the Salem Hospital. He was a preemie coming 5 1/2 weeks early and weighing only 5 lbs 12 oz. Although the delivery itself went well, he came out with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck several times and he was not breathing well.

Bryon was immediately placed on oxygen but quickly went to a C-Pap. He stayed on the C-Pap for 5 days before he was able to fully breathe on his own. He stayed in the NICU for an additional 3 days to be monitored without any further issues. During the initial 5 days, he had several issues with breathing and his heart stopping. His family said, "Thank God for the nurses to be able to stay on top of his monitors and bring Bryon back to us."

Once Bryon's stay at the NICU was over, his family was allowed to bring him home. Bryon was doing well and being a normal little boy. He continue to grow, play and laugh everyday. He was "normal" in the fact that he did the typical infant things such as sit up, crawl, talking, walking, running and even getting immunizations.

But Bryon's mom and dad, Pete and Sandy Poli noticed a lump in his pelvic/groin area around December 2005. It did not appear to be getting any better. The decision was made to take him to the doctors after realizing it was not getting any better.

Bryon was taken to the emergency room at Salem Hospital. He was seen by several nurses and the doctors as well as having over a dozen ultrasounds done. They initially thought it was epiditimus (swelling of the lymph node). He was given a script for antibiotics and asked to call the Male Anatomy Specialist first thing Monday morning.

Bryone shortly after initial diagnosis

Sandy Poli said, "We gave Bryon the antibiotics that were prescribed, saw the Specialist and also so another Specialist at his request. We were asked to come back in a week to see how Bryon was doing. When we got to that appointment, the lump did not appear any smaller."

She says the doctor decided to give him additional antibiotics and one a little stronger than the one prior and also a now 2 week supply. Time went on again...and the lump was visually worse (larger).

That is when his mom called the doctor and asked to do something, a scan, anything that would determine what was wrong with Bryon. They decided to have him get a CT.

Most of Bryon's "normality" faded away in Feb 2006, his mother said. "We were told that the reason the doctor did not see anything in any of the ultrasounds was due to him being full tumor. The doctors did not see the beginning or the end of the tumor, they were actually looking inside of it and not knowing. This all came to light when the CT results came in to us and we were asked to go to Legacy Emanuel Hospital immediately, his mom said.

Bryon in May, 2008

"We brought Bryon home, packed a bag for Bryon, my husband Pete and myself and made arrangements for Bryon's sisters. Cynthia and Cassandra. We were then off to Portland. We met several nurses that were going to be taking care of Bryon, the oncology doctor as well as a case manager. We talked in depth about Bryon's history, or lack there of."

She says many tests, scans, and a biopsy were all being scheduled one after the other. With Bryon only being 17 months old, he was being put under for all the testing going on, so every morning he was not allowed to eat.

"We would bring him down, he would be put under and have that day's test done. The same would happen the next day and the day after. This went on for almost a week straight. They were pretty sure of the diagnosis, but decided to do one more test to make sure. So, he was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma on Feb 12th 2006. We were given a day pass to come home, but instructed to be back at the hospital when our pass time frame was over."

Sandy Poli says they came home to see all of the kids, had dinner with the family and a few friends and then the it went downhill.

"We changed Bryon's diaper and noticed the biopsy site was extremely red, mucus coming out and running over 103 temp. We kindly asked all to be on their way, locked the doors and rushed back to Emanuel. He had an infection develop at his biopsy site."

Bryon was immediately started on IV antiobotics.

"We had a port surgically put in and then the chemotherapy started. Bryon became violently ill after the chemo treatment. With the infection on top of it, we continued to stay at the hospital for several more days before we were discharged."

She says they spent 2 weeks up at Emanuel the first round, and then were sent home after learning how to access his port to continue the IV antibiotics at home.

Bryon received chemo weekly for 5 weeks before radiation started. Bryon was then doing radiation therapy daily along with the chemo treatments for a month.

That his mother says, is when they were back down to just the chemo.

"Bryon continued to be under close watch as we had many long nights in the ER usually due to extremely high fevers. Bryon lost weight, wouldn't eat and was ill more than not for most of the year. Finally, in Dec of 2006, Bryon was given the 'clean bill of health' with his final treatment and final scan showing no signs of cancer! Bryon became very well known at Emanuel as 'The Little Man'. Even with many complications, fevers, infections and so forth, more times than not, he would greet you with a smile. He was used to going to a hospital as part of his living routine and it did not seam abnormal. This was his life and he didn't know any better or anything different."

Bryon's mom says that in 2007, they continued trips up to Portland, "but we only had scans every 3 months. Bryon would be scanned and a few days later, we would go up and have his results as well as blood results. He has overcome phnemonia, flu, and colds with no immunizations. In Dec 2007, we were told it was finally time to have him see a regular pediatrician and start the immunization process again. Bryon has continued to play, enjoy cars, balls and playing outside on a regular basis."

"We then had him scanned again in March 2008." This scan showed some blockage in his lungs and doctors then asked to repeat a few scans.

"We had additional CT's as well as a PET scan done in April 2008. The lungs were now clear, but there were several areas of concern surrounding his neck. We then started the weekly trips up to Portland for them to monitor him."

The lumps were not going on May 15th 2008, he was put under again for another biopsy, his mother said.

"Bryon is so strong willed and a good little boy. He has gone through more in 3 1/2 years than most of us do in a lifetime. I know God has a plan for this little boy and it is a pleasure being his mom and Pete feels the same way about being his dad. We love this little boy with all our hearts." She added, "God is good and we continue to have faith the the Lord will show us what will be our next path."

The family says they would like to thank Morningstar Church and it's members, family and friends for all the prayers and support tehy have received over these hard times. They would also like to thank all of the prayer chains, prayer lists as well as other members of other churches and communities that have been praying for Bryon.

It is a hard read and don't feel bad if this article zaps your emotions, it sure made me think and I literally had to stop a couple of times. By supporting the "Night of Fire" you help Bryon and you help his family and ensure a community spirit that must endure, that is necessary for the survival of all of us.

If your business would like to help, shoot Rich Bailey an email at

Here are video reports from two recent Night of Fire Car show events:

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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Sandy June 8, 2008 11:07 am (Pacific time)

This has been rescheduled for July 18th!

The murrays June 6, 2008 11:47 am (Pacific time)

Thanks for letting us know!

SMP June 6, 2008 8:55 am (Pacific time)

What an inspiration piece. That you for writing it! I hope this benefit turns out a croud and may they all enjoy

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