If you’ve ever been to a car show in Urbana, such as any of the “Urbana Cruisers” events, then you’ve probably seen a guy zooming around on a 3-wheel scooter taking all kinds of video of all the cars, trucks and festivities.
He usually wears a bandanna or cap that says GO4RIDER and if you look closely, many of the vehicles entered in the car show have GO4RIDER “stickers” on them.
He’s quite a character and very popular – a well-liked local area celebrity of sorts.
On Oct. 29 he attended and filmed the Urbana Cruisers Trunk or Treat Spooktacular Car Show at the Southwest Bowling Center. In fact, if you’re an avid car show-goer you’ve probably seen him at all the Young’s Dairy Cruise-in events, Springfield car shows and literally just all around the Miami Valley and all points in between, “doing what he does,” at shows.
So, really, who is this guy and what is it that he does, you might have wondered?
Well, we’ve got the scoop!
His real name is Donald Sparks and this is his story.
Everyone calls him the “GO4RIDER.” That’s his YouTube handle. He is actually nick-named after his famous ride, which is his 1997, 3-wheel BT 57, GO-4 police interceptor truck, manufactured by Westward Industries in Canada and made for use by police departments, businesses, military, fire departments, corporations and parking enforcement.
This is not an ordinary parking enforcement vehicle though, factory designed for a maximum speed of 40 mph, Sparks has jacked it up with tremendous modifications and enhancements so it can go 85 mph.
But that’s to be expected, because Sparks, aka GO4Rider, or GO4 for short, is no ordinary person. The quirky, energetic and creative graphic arts designer and videographer who used to race modified Cushmans and Volkswagens up 400-foot sand dunes in Michigan is truly extraordinary.
Stricken with childhood tumors and many related adult lifelong serious medical issues, Sparks has never let his challenges hold him back.
“Growing up as a kid, I just jumped right in and tried to do what all the other kids did, ” Sparks said.
He even tried to volunteer for military service during the Vietnam War but due to his health conditions was not allowed to serve. But, nothing has ever stopped this driven American “unsung hero” who just happens to also be a great car lover and car show enthusiast.
Sparks has taken his passion for cars and his love for his country and created a YouTube channel that allows him to give back to those who have served and also to the community at large.
You can’t miss him, he travels around to about 6-14 car shows every week in his 3-wheel GO4RIDER police interceptor and films his “YouTube show” for each car show, whizzing around on his personal wheelchair scooter.
Practically any car show you could name that has occurred over the last 9 years in Urbana, Springfield, Xenia, Dayton and all points in between, he has probably been to and filmed a show on it. All the car show “regulars” know Sparks, aka the GO4RIDER YouTuber, but they “really” don’t know his whole story and what makes him tick and why he does what he does week after week, year after year.
Sparks who grew up in Clark County, Ohio and is a Crystal Lake/Medway resident, and it was just about 9 years ago he learned that a lot of the guys up at the VA and a lot of the veterans in home treatment were not able to get out anymore to go to car shows.
And even though Sparks’ health is not very good either, he can still get out and about with his 3-wheel wheelchair scooter.
“Since I’m still able to get out to a certain degree and go to car shows, I decided to try to come up with a way to bring the car shows to these guys who served our country,” Sparks said.
“So I started videotaping the local car shows and I would take and put everything on a CD or DVD and go into nursing homes, the VA, hospice and whatever places where the VA would let me go in and play them on a DVD player or computer for them to watch,” said Sparks. “They really loved it.”
“That way, at least, they could see and enjoy the local car shows on video, in the comfort of their own living quarters since they couldn’t get there in person anymore.
“It also gives them something to watch and look forward to during chemo treatments, their respiratory treatments and dialysis treatments.”
Sparks eventually transitioned to a YouTube channel and Facebook.
“It made it so much easier for me to reach so many more people where they could just look at it on their phones and computer devices and instantly watch it,” Sparks said.
Sparks does not monetize his popular YouTube channel and runs the whole production on a shoe-string budget.
“I rely greatly on YouTube fan contributions and some generous local sponsors to help fund what I do,” he said.
If that doesn’t keep him busy enough, Sparks also cares for his aging parents.
“Don is not only a fantastic human being, he is also a world class videographer as his work shows in all of his YouTube productions, ” said Rob Schrader, a local car show guru and publisher of the popular car show website MiamiValley Novas.com. “I just think the world of Don and everything that he does for our car show community, it’s tremendous.”
Sparks keeps on truckin’ no matter what obstacles come his way.
Sparks is the GO4RIDER. A true midwestern YouTube folk hero, one-of-a-kind personality and just all around good guy.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone if someday his popular YouTube channel would be picked up by a Hollywood studio and turned into the next hit reality show.
Let’s hope so, it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.
You can watch Donald’s videos @: GO4RIDER
https://www.youtube.com/c/GO4RIDER_trikelife937/videos or on facebook @: Donald Sparks
Ron Brohm is an Outdoors, Tourism, Parks, Automotive & Aviation Journalist/Author and writes for the Urbana Daily Citizen and other AIM Media Midwest newspapers and several national magazines. He is also a Certified Parks & Recreation Professional (CPRP), serves as the Park Commissioner for the City of Riverside & is the Executive Director of the Great Ohio Outback Wilderness Regional Authority.