Make-A-Wish truck convoy ‘a fun time’ for beneficiaries
The big rigs turned out Saturday in Newry to haul some precious cargo and raise money to help fulfill future wishes for some special children.
Make-A-Wish of Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia held its 14th Annual Truck Convoy and Car Show at Leighty’s Flea Market to raise money for the organization that brings wishes to kids with life-threatening conditions.
“It’s a fun time,” said John Morrison of Altoona, whose son John Westley Morrison, 16, got to ride in the convoy of 44 trucks provided by area trucking companies and drivers. “It’s a wonderful fundraiser for a great organization. It gives special needs families a chance to do things they normally wouldn’t get to do.”
John Westley, who had a wish of going to Walt Disney World fulfilled in 2007, said he enjoys getting to go for a ride in the big rigs. Living with microcephaly and optic nerve atrophy, which makes him legally blind, John Westley attends cyber school, collects rocks and was all smiles when recalling the trip with his mom, Irene, and big sister, Christina, to Florida.
He was also grinning as he climbed aboard the 1013 Peterbilt truck that Smith Transport brought to the event.
Jeff Sell, the truck’s driver, said Smith Transport has been involved with the convoy for the past 14 years.
Saturday was Sell’s first trip and the brand-new truck’s inaugural run.
“It’s very good for the kids,” Sell said. “It’s all about the kids.”
Along with the trucks, there was food, music and an array of classic and antique cars to go along with Saturday’s convoy.
Ann Waltman of the Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia Chapter of Make-A-Wish said the annual event raises between $10,000 and $15,000 each year. Waltman said there were 44 trucks for this year’s event and with sponsorships the organization was looking at bringing in more than the $12,000 received from last year’s convoy.
Drivers pay $60 to enter the convoy but most also raise additional cash for Make-A-Wish through their customers and other sponsors, Waltman said.
Bill Davis of Alexandria, a driver with Schneider National, led Saturday’s convoy after topping the donation list at last year’s event. Davis said as the son of a truck driver, he remembers the thrill he got as a kid when he got to ride in a big truck and said it’s exciting for the kids and a worthwhile cause.
“Being a truck driver, it’s hard getting off to do things,” Davis said. “It’s just good giving back to the community.”
Eric Sherry of Smithfield, safety director for Pleasant Trucking in Fayette County, said the company got involved for the first time last year after one of their driver’s asked to participate.
“We’ve had a lot of support from our customers,” said Sherry, who pointed out the company has decals on some of its trucks in support of Make-A-Wish that note, “This truck has helped grant wishes.” Sponsors, he said, get their logo with the Make-A-Wish logo on the trailer skirt.
Sherry said after last year’s event, in which the company brought one truck, the family owned company decided to do it again.
“After we did it, we said that we really got to step it up next year,” Sherry said, adding the event is a good match for the family owned company.
Waltman said Pleasant trucking raised over $5,800 this year and lead the pack.
“It’s for the kids, absolutely for the kids,” Sherry said.
Waltman said the organization is always looking for children with life-threatening conditions to help as well as more trucks for the event. The event’s web site can be found at www.wishconvoy.com and Make-A-Wish of Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia is on the web at www.greaterpawv.wish.org.