Truck drivers in five provinces running in five separate Convoy events on Saturday drove into the record books with nearly $200,000 in pledges and donations.
Four Convoys in support of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics took place in Halifax, Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Paris, ON., while a fifth event, The Convoy for Hope, ran in Moncton, NB.
This year’s largest convoy took place in Manitoba with 141 trucks raising over $65,000. Trucks started at the Oak Bluff Recreation Centre on the Perimeter Highway southwest of Winnipeg, and ran counterclockwise around the city. With that many trucks in the Convoy, the lead truck must have been darned close to the Pembina Hwy. intersection before the last truck left Oak Bluff.
In Saskatoon, organizers had 62 trucks participate that raised a preliminary total of $45,000. That convoy route was the longest of this year’s events, running from the Credit Union Centre to Regina’s Turvey Center, a distance of 250 km along Hwy 11. This year’s event also featured a truck-pull challenge where four teams competed for the best time to pull a 15-ton truck a distance of 15 meters.
In Paris, ON., about 45 minutes west of Toronto, organizers ran their eighth convoy. This year they had 51 trucks that raised $42,000. Over the eight years, the Paris convoy has raised close to $350,000 for Special Olympics athletes. And the best part about the fund raising effort is that all of the money remains in the jurisdiction that raised it.
This year marked the first Special Olympics Convoy event for Halifax, and by all accounts, it won’t be the last. Event coordinator, Anne Marie Shannon, said with two weeks to go before the event, she was ready to call it off because only three trucks had pre-registered. Having been assured that drivers would show up on the day of the event because many just cannot commit in advance, Shannon went ahead with it. And show up they did: 57 drivers brought close to $19,000 to Special Olympians in the region.
“It was unbelievable,” Shannon said. “There were hundreds and hundreds of people lining the route and cheering the drivers on. In my 10 years of fund raising for Special Olympics, I’ve never seen anything like it. Tears were flowing everywhere — even many of my long-term volunteers were crying. It was truly inspiring.”
Shannon, whose father is a truck driver, is well aware of some of the stereotyping truckers suffer. She says this event puts all that to rest.
“These men and women are remarkable people. Coming together with that kind of support and dedication to a cause few of them have any direct link to is truly outstanding,” says Shannon. “I congratulate them and thank them from the bottom of my heart.”
The Halifax Convoy ran from Canadian Forces Base Halifax (formerly CFB Shearwater) located on the eastern shore of Halifax Harbour. It began at “F Hangar” on the base, drove through the streets of Dartmouth, Cole Harbour, Eastern Passage, and back to the base — a distance of 37 km.
And in Moncton this year, the Convoy of Hope Atlantic, made a successful comeback after a year’s hiatus. Organizer Jo-Ann Phillips, a former Olympic athlete and now a small fleet owner, built on the previous success of former Convoy for a Cure events held in Moncton in 2009 and 2010, broadening the scope of this year’s event to include breast, colon, lung and prostate cancer awareness.
Over 40 trucks ran from the Irving Big Stop in Salisbury, NB. just east of Moncton, to the Irving Big Stop in Aulac, NB. at the New Brunswick/Nova Scotia border, a distance of 85 km. Preliminary totals stand at $20,000. The day’s events also included many local cancer survivors, who rode in the convoy, judged the trucks, etc.
Joanne Ritchie, the executive director of the Owner-Operator’s Business Association of Canada(OBAC), attended the Paris, ON. convoy for the eighth year, and in addition to selling raffle tickets and helping with the flow of activities, she was on the phone with other convoy organizers around the country and tracking participation and fund raising totals.
“OBAC is a big supporter and promoter of these Convoy events. As well as supporting important causes, they build bridges between the trucking community and non-trucking people and law enforcement,” Ritchie says. “The convoys help break down stereotypes, and give drivers a chance to show their generosity and community spirit.
“And the cancer awareness events,” she adds, “get conversations started among drivers and their families and friends about bigger-picture driver wellness issues.”
There are two more Convoy events scheduled this year in Canada — both in October. If you can’t participate, please consider a generous a donation or sponsorship of a driver. It is truly trucking’s moment to shine.
Oct. 06 The Convoy for a Cure Alberta runs from the Road King Travel Centre in Sherwood Park, Alta. to Blackjacks Roadhouse in Nisku. Proceeds go to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Tara Sherman at 780-236-2899 or Mylene Rusk at 780-975-3208. Visit the Alberta Convoy website for information and registration forms.
Oct. 13 The Trucking for a Cure convoy runs from the 5th Wheel Truck Stop Dorchester, Ont. to TA Travel Centre in Woodstock. Proceeds go to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. For more information, Call Joanne Millen MacKenzie 613-803-1711 or 607-331-0666 or e-mail email@example.com. Visit the convoy website for information or to register.