Canadian truckers join World’s Largest Truck Convoy
November 1, 2005
PARIS, Ont. - The World's Largest Convoy came to Ontario Sept. 10 for the first time since the event started in 2000, as 60 truckers travelled from Paris, Ont. to Putnam, Ont. and back to raise money...
A SPECIAL EVENT: Sixty truckers travelled from Paris, Ont. to Putnam, Ont. and back recently in support of the Special Olympics and raised over $30,000.
PARIS, Ont. – The World’s Largest Convoy came to Ontario Sept. 10 for the first time since the event started in 2000, as 60 truckers travelled from Paris, Ont. to Putnam, Ont. and back to raise money for the Special Olympics. The Ontario drivers joined Albertans and drivers from 30 states to traverse a total of about 1,000 miles during the annual record-breaking event.
Last year’s event raised almost $225,000 from about 3,000 truckers and was the fifth year the event achieved Guinness Book of World Record status.
Ontario organizer Tammy Blackwell said funds raised for the local event were expected to total about $30,000, though numbers were still being tallied as Truck News went to print.
“We’re very pleased with money that was raised, but that was kind of our secondary goal,” she said. “Our goal was to build a foundation and a bond between the drivers, the law enforcement and the athletes. Now that the bond is in place we can go forward.”
Blackwell, who also serves as president of the Kitchener and District Traffic Club, approached the Ontario branch of the Special Olympics and eventually got the ball rolling for the event.
“We said, ‘Here’s what we’ve done in the past, here’s the quality of what we’ll produce, here’s how we’re going to attack it and here’s our budget.’ They approved it and started working with us.”
From there the drivers were provided with pledge sheets to collect money from friends, family, their companies or simply door-to-door. The driver with the highest amount of pledges received the honour of being the lead truck and this year that honour went to Stephan Gaultier of J.R. Menard who raised $6,018.
“It’s just unheard of for an individual to do that,” Blackwell said.
One of the first companies to jump on board was Drumbo Transport, whose owner has three grandchildren that have been in the Special Olympics program for a number of years. As well, a driver that has family in Elmira, Ont. involved in the Special Olympics managed to convince five drivers from their company to participate.
Overall, Blackwell says the event was a success and she’s already looking forward to next year.
“The driver response was just heartwarming, they were so excited they were asking for pledge sheets for next year,” she said “The input for next year has been phenomenal and hopefully both the drivers and the folks from the Special Olympics were as pleased as we were.”
Meanwhile, to the west it was the second year Alberta has taken part in the program. About 26 trucks took part, departing from Calgary and Edmonton and converging in Red Deer for a lunchtime gathering.
The convoy coincided with Truxpo in Edmonton resulting in some last-minute sign-ups for the event, which was sponsored in part by Truck West.
Coordinator Christa Laforce said it was the second year Alberta has participated in the convoy and she hopes it will continue to gain momentum in coming years.
“Next year’s looking good already,” she said, noting many truckers who have recently learned about the event are already planning to take part next year.
Two of the drivers taking part in the Edmonton event were Greg Whyte and his wife Monika. The Bison Transport drivers were devastated when their truck broke down just prior to the event. However, Bison stepped up and provided a truck so they could still take part.
“Our company is standing behind this 100 per cent and providing trucks and trailers,” said a thankful, Greg Whyte. The couple was planning on also taking part in the convoy to be held in Minnesota at a later date.
“And next year we’re going to get more involved and rally some more drivers,” insisted Monika Whyte.
Heading up the Calgary convoy was Michael ‘Motor’ Rosenau.
He earned the honour by raising about $600 for Special Olympics.
In total, there were nine Rosenau trucks that took part in the Alberta convoy. Rosenau didn’t have much time to prepare for this year’s event but he says he is planning on going all-out next year.
“I’m absolutely going to take part next year and I’m going to push to find a whole lot more people to help out,” he said. “I’d like to see over 100 trucks take part.”
For Rosenau, the most rewarding part was seeing the reaction from the Special Olympians who came out to show their support and gratitude during the convoy.
“I want this thing to be huge for those kids,” Rosenau said.
“With the doom and gloom that goes on in the world, I want to see something good come out of this. Those kids are so full of life and out there doing their best, society should give back to them.”