Hand UP for Women’s inaugural fundraiser, Angels and Axles Car Show and Bake Sale, has a unique backstory of how this event was created.

In 2018,  Knoxville Police Officer, B.K. Hardin was ambushed after a UT football game. He was directing traffic when someone used a hammer to attack him. His attacker was never identified.

“It’s one of those miracles where millimeters make all the difference,” Hardin said about the incident.

He had an open skull fracture, brain swelling and bleeding. Doctors removed the skull fragments and replaced them with a titanium plate.

“The community rallied around me,” Hardin said, “The power of prayer was very evident.”

Amazingly, other than dealing with a concussion, there were no lasting impacts.

“He hit me in the best place he could hit me,” Hardin joked.

Hardin was back on duty eight weeks later. He spent the last part of his career as the school resource officer at Vine Middle School before he retired in September 2022.

After his attack, one of the things he realized was “I was still here for a reason.”

So, he looked for ways to get involved in the community.

“I always wanted to humanize the badge,” Hardin explained.

He began wondering how he could give back to the East Tennessee community that gave so much to him while he was recovering from the attack. That’s when doors started opening.

As a side job, he had DIY Garage Knox. Anybody could rent the garage to work in there and use the tools needed to fix their vehicle. While he was operating this business, a Hand UP for Women graduate who works for the city asked around for a good car care teacher. Word spread to him and he agreed. Hardin began teaching the car care class in the early spring of 2020 and thoroughly enjoyed it.

He made the focus of the car care class on becoming independent – knowing that is one of the biggest keys to getting a job. “Maintaining employment is tough enough without roadblocks, so if you don’t have trustworthy transportation you wind up losing that job,” Hardin said.

He teaches participants how to solve tough problems such as making sure their car is running well, signs the car may have an issue and how to do routine maintenance.

Over the three-night class, Hardin shows the women the three most important things to watch for including tires, fluids and brakes. They open car hoods and learn how to check fluid levels and see where the lights on the dashboard are and what they mean.

“One of the things we focus on in the class is when something goes wrong, how do we fix that and how do we fight through adversity. Because so many women have fought through their own challenges the car trouble they’re facing can seem like another obstacle, when, in reality, it’s a test of adversity. Giving them those skills to deal with real-world adversity–I just get a big thrill out of that,” Hardin said.

As an officer, it was always interesting to see the ladies’ initial reaction to me when they saw me in uniform. They would see law enforcement during their worst times. Hardin wanted to show officers are there, not to punish them, but to help them problem-solve bad situations and build relationships.

In June of 2022 when board elections were approaching, board members asked Hardin if he was interested in being on the board. He agreed.

Becoming a board member led Hardin to think about different types of fundraisers. That’s how the Angels and Axles Car Show and Bake Sale was born. His vast interest in cars extends to his ownership of a Corvette he named Trixie, that’s not just a show car but one that he drives as well.

“We’ve got such a great opportunity with Angels and Axles because of Black Oak Heights Baptist Church helping and hopefully good weather. We know this will be a fun event for families,” Hardin said.

Angels and Axles will have day-of registration.

“We’re hoping for 100 to 150 cars, motorcycles and trucks,” Hardin said. It costs $30 to enter a car, truck or motorcycle. There will be judging at 11 a.m. and around 1 p.m. winners will be announced for the top five cars, the top five trucks, the top three motorcycles, best in show, a participation award for the club that has the most vehicles and the angels’ choice award where current program participants can pick their favorite vehicle. The goal is to raise $5,000.

To learn about other classes Hand UP for Women offers click here.