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Paris Convoy Pulls in $52,000 for Special Olympics

Posted: October 26, 2015 by Jim Park

PARIS, ON — The Southern Ontario chapter of the World’s Largest Truck Convoy for Special Olympics ran in Paris, ON the weekend of Oct. 17 when a total of 69 trucks made the 100 km loop from Paris to Ingersoll and back, raising $52,000 through pledges and sponsorships.

On-site raffle drawings, contests and promotions brought a few thousand more into the coffers.

This was the Paris Convoy’s 11th year. Total donations to Special Olympics from this one source topped $580,000 with this year’s tally.

Each year a few dozen such events take place in cities across North America, including five in Canada, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to aid Special Olympics athletes in their quest for self-fulfillment and maybe even a few medals at sporting events.

The Paris Convoy ran a month late this year due to some organizing challenges. In fact, the event almost didn’t happen, but some heroic last minute efforts pulled everything together in less than a month.

There were 72 trucks registered this year, and 69 made the trip, accompanied by representatives from eight separate law enforcement agencies from across the province. There were more police there this year than ever before, and many were there to scope out the possibility of bringing a Special Olympics convoy to their communities. Organizers say there’s a good chance there will be three convoys running in Ontario next fall.

One of the highlights of these events is the honor of leading the convoy. Lead truck honors usually go to the driver who brings in the most money in pledges and sponsorships. Officially, this year’s would have been Don Poll (a.k.a., Duck) of Drumbo Transport, with $4,625. However, Don, with two previous stints as Lead Truck, graciously ceded the lead position Convoy newcomer, Melissa Mayer-Hall, a driver with Robsan Transportation, who arrived with more than $2600 in pledges. Second position in this year’s Convoy went to Scott Verbruggen with $3100 to the Convoy’s credit.

Pledges collected by the top 12 drivers this year totaled nearly $23,000.

It would be difficult to single out any one part of the event as the best or most fun, but there was a special appearance this year by Hamilton Hawks goaltender, Jim Cook, himself a Special Olympics athlete. Cook offered attendees a chance to take 5 shots with a foam rubber puck on his carefully guarded net. Cook kicked out more than 200 shots, including five from Brent Gretsky, youngest brother of the Great One, and still a Brandford, ON resident. Cook’s challenge netted the Convoy an additional $500.

The day wound up with a truck pull competition pitting a group of Special Olympic Athletes against the police officers who helped marshal the Convoy and the drivers who participated.

Convoys Across Canada

September and October are the months for fund-raising truck convoys, and it’s an activity very much favored by drivers. This year, five “World’s Largest Truck Convoy for Special Olympics” events took place across Canada. Here’s how they stacked up:

  • Dartmouth, Nova Scotia: 170 trucks / $75,000
  • Winnipeg, Manitoba: 202 trucks / $70,000
  • Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: 70 trucks / $30,000
  • Paris, Ontario: 72 trucks / $52,000
  • Calgary, Alberta: 24 trucks, no dollar amounts reported

In addition to the Special Olympics convoy events, two Trucking for a Cure convoys took place this year, one in Woodstock, ON, the other on the eastern Ontario town of Prescott. Together they attracted 107 trucks raising more than $75,000 for The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

Even smaller convoys make a difference. The Convoy for Hope in the Moncton, NB-area, supports the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, Lung Cancer Canada, Prostate Cancer Canada, and Colon Cancer Canada. This year 26 trucks and 14 motorcycles raised $24,000 with their convoy and other fund-raising events.

Earlier this summer, a group of volunteers in Newfoundland and Labrador who call themselves the Just Kids Transportation Group organized their annual Teddy Bear Convoy. That event benefits the Janeway Children’s Hospital in St. John’s, the only children’s hospital in the province. The 75 participants in The Teddy Bear Convoy raised over $35,000 for the hospital. 

Many of the drivers who participate in these convoy-type fund raising events begin collecting their pledges and sponsorships a year in advance. And they do it with some enthusiasm, as you can tell by the tally from this year’s events. Truckers across Canada contributed more than $360,000 to their favorite charitable organizations this year alone. 

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