There's something in a convoy of trucks that seems to stir a driver's imagination. It's being a part of something. A cog in something turning, as the Woodstock song goes. The convoys I'm referring to are the various fund-raising convoys that take place around North America each fall.
For about 10 years now, drivers, owner-operators, and carriers have come together for various charitable causes and raised literally tons of money.
From the long standing and still popular World's largest Truck Convoy for Special Olympics, to the recently conceived Convoy for a Cure aiding breast cancer research, drivers have taken a very personal interest in these causes.
I've been involved with the Southern Ontario Truck Convoy for Special Olympics that takes place in Paris, Ont., about 40 miles west of Toronto, for seven years now as a master of ceremonies, and photographer. I always leave that event feeling a great deal better about our much maligned industry.
The men and women involved put their hearts and souls into raising pledges and donations. One driver in particular, Brian Hilton of MacKinnon Transport, has alone raised more than $30,000 in five consecutive convoy events.
What else can I say about that kind of dedication?
That particular convoy has managed to raise more than a quarter of a million dollars for Canadian Special Olympics athletes. The great thing is there is always a large group of the athletes present at the event. The fundraising and commitment takes on a very personal edge.
The people who benefit from this are in the same room. And when the event's final tallies are announced, there are always tears flowing. It's very inspiring.
Most recently, I attended the Ontario West edition of the Convoy for a Cure. This event raises money for breast cancer research, and like three similar Canadian convoys and one U.S.-based convoy, they are driven primarily by female drivers. Males are welcome to join and show their support, of course, but the women take center stage for obvious reasons.
The weather for year's Ontario West Convoy sucked. The rained dampened everything but their enthusiasm. It was cold and windy and wet, but carry on they did because there was something bigger at stake than getting a little damp.
This year, about 40 drivers raised more than $30,000 for the cause.
But you know, it's not how much they raise that touches my heart, it's the dedication and enthusiasm with which they go at it. For several drivers, fund raising begins the Sunday after the convoy and it continues all year long.
If you could just bottle that kind of spirit.
There's still one more convoy on the 2011 schedule, the 3rd Annual Convoy for a Cure USA. It takes place at the T/A Petro at exit 374 off I-35 in Carl's Corner, Texas on Saturday, October 29.
If you know someone who has entered a truck, thank them and please offer a contribution to the cause. If you don't, please consider entering a truck of your own. There's no better feeling than the one you get from helping someone. And the money raised through events like these ultimately helps a lot of people.