This is really an amazing story of good people coming together to help one person from around the world.
My name is Jim Bennett and I started a little website called Mrjim.net many years ago to showcase my 1994 Nissan Pathfinder. I added photos and stories. Eventually, other Pathfinder owners wanted to know if they could also add their Pathfinders to my site. Of course I added them and then we started a forum on the site. It was a place were we could talk about anything really, but the primary purpose was being the authority on Nissan Pathfinders and Nissan Terranos (the European version).
Soon it was decided that we were getting to big to just be on this little site and we discussed creating a club for all Nissan Pathfinder owners. We brainstormed for a name and came up with the Nissan Pathfinder Off Road Association, or NPORA for short. We began to add how to sections and sponsored trail runs and various events. Before long, we had over 2000 members in over 66 countries. We had become the number Pathfinder site in the world.
In 1994, I underwent a surgery that changed my life. It was the gastric weight loss surgery and I was really excited to have it done, but in the process I was infected with Mersa. It is a really bad infection that is hospital born and can kill you. They had to open my abdomin up for nearly a month and leave it open to let the wound heal from the inside out. A nurse had to come by each day to clean and scrub out my wounds. During this time, I got so weak that I knew I was going to die. I was keeping a diary each day and I wrote down every thought as I was feeling like I might not wake up each time I laid down to sleep. It was a very difficult time for me and for my wife. It took several months fo rme to be well enough to start working again and even then I was throwing up several times a day and was often feeling sick.
Life became a serious challenge for me to step up and make it or lay down and die. I began working out 3-4 hours a day and began averaging about 1 pound of weight loss every day. Within no time, I had lost 150 pounds and was at my goal weight of 200 lbs. This time had taken its toll on myself, my marriage, and my drive to stay connected to anything from my past. I can't explain it, but I could just not go back to NPORA and be there like I was before this all happened. I used to spend 4-5 hours a day on the site, guiding members and guests with my knowledge of the Pathfinders. I lost track with some good friends as well. There was alot more going on than just me losing weight though. My marriage had not been that strong before the weightloss and we had started to get a divorce several times throughout the years, but during this year that followed my weight loss surgery, I was dealing with the reality of how everyone seems to treat heavy people really badly. I guess I didn't notice it until I started losing weight and suddenly women who had ignored me daily in stores and out in public were suddenly flirting with me and laughing, etc. All that did was upset me. It upset me because I was the same person before when I was heavy, but I was treated very differently. I felt this in my own marriage and within 15 months of the surgery we had filed for divorce.
The divorce was a long and bitter one. It lasted from 2005 to May of 2009. During this time, I lost just about everything to pay for my legal council in the divorce.
During the divorce, I also lost my prized Pathfinder than I had built piece by piece and that was known literally the world over as being the start of NPORA.
Several years have gone by since 2005 and I am living a quiet life now in Anacortes living on my boat full time. Things are simpler now. I do have a good job working for IBM, but all of my money goes toward marital debts that dragged on for 4 years in our divorce. I had to sell my personal vehicle earlier this year to pay for the last of my legal defense in my divorce and do not have much left now. I am rebuilding slowly and I am happy.
Then about a month ago, I got a phone call from one of the site administrators at NPORA who wanted me to know that someone had spotted my Pathfinder in a junk yard and photos were popping up on the internet and the whole community wanted to know how this icon that started it all ended up there.
I told them my story and that I felt bad that I had let it slip away from me during the divorce, but that I suppose I was happy to know it was not going to be driven by anyone else.
I didn't hear from anyone for a week or so and then I got another phone call. This time, I was told that I need to get online and look at the forums. With over 4000 members now, everyone wanted to save my Pathfinder from destruction and return to it to MrJim the founder of NPORA. They said that it was the least they could do when I paid for the site without advertisers for many years and contributed so much to helping so many. I was floored. I thought it was so cool that they would even want to do this collectively, but really didn't think they would manage to do it. I was wrong.
The salvage yard recognized that this Pathfinder was custom built and that it had allot of expensive parts and alterations on it to make it really strong on the trails. So, they decided they wanted $3000 for this Pathfinder than sat with numbers written on every body part in their salvage yard. The NPORA group new this was really more than a 1994 Pathfinder should bring in a salvage yard of all places, but this was the Pathfinder that started it all. It was the icon that brought all of us together and forged this incredible group of people from every corner of the world who would do something so selfless and awesome like this.
As of today, they have collected over $2000 in about 2 weeks from members and look to be well on track to have the full amount by the weekend. They plan to buy it back, take it to a members home, replace the parts that have been sold off of it and make it completely road worthy again before presenting it back to me once more.
It is the coolest thing I have every experienced and I thought your readers might enjoy a positive story about people helping people. You can read the threads on our site that started it all at http://npora.ipbhost.com//index.php?act=announce&f=9&id=3
I hope to hear from you soon. I think this is an amazing story. Jim Bennett 360-420-8684