Lilly Pray has a passion for cars, and now she’s channeling that energy into an organized drive that will give back to the community. Lilly, a nurse in Boulder, Colorado, serves an ambassador for Rally Across America, a grassroots organization whose goal is to raise more than $1 million for nonprofit groups across the U.S.
As a frontline medical worker and car lover, the fundraising tour is right in Pray’s wheelhouse, and it all started with her dad. Malcom Pray Jr. was a successful car dealer and well-known collector who gave generously to the Boy Scouts, Boys and Girls Club, Red Cross, USO, and other local charities in Greenwich, Connecticut.
“My father taught me how to drive classic cars,” she says of Malcom, who passed away in 2013. “If I wanted to spend time with my dad, it was in the garage with him, as well as attending a lot of auctions and concours events.
“I’ve been a concours judge for many years, and it is probably how I made my dad the proudest when I started judging at Hilton Head Concours 19 years ago. He instilled in me a great sense of giving and giving back to my community,” she says.
Lilly Pray began working in the medical field in 1987, first as volunteer, which led to a career as a firefighter/paramedic. She became an RN in 2010 and volunteers as a victim advocate for the Boulder Police Department.
“My brother died in a car crash in 1986,” she says of Malcolm Pray III. “It was a life changing event. My life motto has been always to ‘help the weaker hikers on their journey.’ So as an EMS provider, and now a RN, I guess I’m still helping the weaker hikers and holding their hands in whatever way I can.”
She jumped at the opportunity to help Rally Across America, which hosted its inaugural drive on June 7, with proceeds going to the Connecticut Foodbank. A total of 41 cars took part, with each driver donating the suggested $100.
Lilly says the idea began with her friends Frank Taylor and Wendy and Jim Petty, who organized the drive as a way to recognize and give to 501(c)3 nonprofits in their area that have greatly suffered during the COVID-19 lockdown. Pray happened to be in Connecticut at the time, so she immediately registered her 1987 Porsche 911. Since Rally Across America hopes to have ambassadors in every state (and average eight drives per state), she took the lead for Colorado.
The first drive that Pray is organizing is set for June 28, beginning and ending in Boulder. Her chosen beneficiary is the Denver-based Morgan Adams Foundation, which raises funds for pediatric cancer research. “The MAF holds the best four-hour concours in the world,” she says, “and they had to cancel their annual major fundraiser on August 24 due to the ongoing events with COVID.”
She has planned two other drives for July 26 and August 16. They will follow a route “into the foothills of the mountains—an easy 60-mile drive lasting 3–4 hours.” As a registered nurse, Lilly is well aware of the possible negative ramifications of any gathering, so social distancing guidelines will be observed. “We just want to get out in our cars and help the nonprofit community,” she says.
She’ll be driving the 1959 Porsche Convertible D that she has owned for 25 years. If you’re sensing a Porsche pattern here, you’re onto something. Lilly’s daughter is named Portia.
Pray says Rally Across America events are planned in six states so far, including one later this year, organized by Barn Find Hunter Tom Cotter, that will travel country roads from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Virginia International Speedway and include a parade lap on the track. Details are forthcoming.
“Driving cars makes me happy,” Lilly says. “My car friends really are my family, and there is nothing as fun as gathering for a family reunion—whether it’s at a concours event, a 1000-mile drive, or a short day-run with friends.”
Rally Across America ambassadors are being sought in every state. If you’re interested in becoming an ambassador or joining a ride near you, contact Lilly Pray at LillyPrayRAA@gmail.com.