CORNWALL, Ont. - In just their third year, the female-driven Convoy for a Cure truck convoys have already raised nearly a quarter million dollars for breast cancer programs. This year marked the best ...
READY TO ROLL: This truck belonging to Alan Warren of Montrose, P.E.I. and driven by Mike Ouellet took part in the support convoy in the New Brunswick version of the popular Convoy for a Cure.
FULL-TIME RIDE: Convoy for a Cure founder Rachele Champagne now has a specially designed tractor-trailer to drive year-round to help raise awareness.
CORNWALL, Ont. –In just their third year, the female-driven Convoy for a Cure truck convoys have already raised nearly a quarter million dollars for breast cancer programs. This year marked the best yet for the growing event, with well over 100 trucks taking part in five convoys and raising about $118,000 between them.
The New Brunswick convoy raised the most money, with 35 truck drivers contributing about $40,000. The original convoy in Cornwall, Ont. was again spearheaded by Rachele Champagne, the founder of the event, and it included 45 trucks and raised nearly $20,000. For the first time, a second convoy was held in Ontario, including 35 trucks and raising $30,000.
The Alberta Convoy for a Cure featured nine trucks and raised about $15,000 and the US version of the event in Texas included 15 trucks and raised about $13,000.
There’s already talk of a second US convoy next year, covering Michigan and Ohio, Champagne told Truck News.
The event is also becoming more inclusive of the less fair of the sexes. Most events now include a ‘support convoy,’ offering men the opportunity to participate.
“I met a driver a couple months ago whose wife had passed away from breast cancer and he said he would really love to participate in this,” Champagne said. “So we decided to create the support convoy. The top three guys raised pretty much as much money as the top three women.”
And the men were no less enthusiastic than any of the ladies when it came to decking their trucks out in pink, Champagne pointed out. Also new this year at the original Convoy for a Cure in Cornwall was a lead vehicle of another type. A limousine carrying eight breast cancer survivors led the way, keynote speaker Anna Capobianco Skipworth (aka Anna Banana) among them.
“We had a limo leading the convoy carrying the most precious cargo of all, the breast cancer survivors,” said Champagne.
Perhaps one of the kindest gestures came from a professional driver not directly connected with the Convoy for a Cure. This year, Champagne’s employer Normandin Transport provided a specially designed reefer trailer that’s sure to raise the event’s profile as it criss-crosses North America year-round. The day before the Convoy, they presented Champagne with the trailer and had the decals ready to apply to her tractor. However, it just wouldn’t look right to pull the white and pink trailer behind an older blue Kenworth T2000.
Normandin has about 300 trucks but only a handful of new Kenworth T660s are white. With little time to spare, fleet manager Danielle Normandin checked to see if any of the white trucks were nearby. All but one were out on the road. Long-time Normandin driver Normand Boulet was at home with his two-year-old Kenworth T660, a truck he loved dearly and had been slowly dressing up with about $600 worth of chrome accessories.
When he got the call from Normandin, Boulet immediately offered to permanently swap rides with Champagne, downgrading to an older blue T2000. He rushed right over to the yard, cleaned out his truck and helped Champagne move into her new ride. Champagne was touched.
“Not all drivers would have done that,” she says. “He loved that truck. Every couple weeks he would buy a new piece of chrome and he left it all on there. Just the fact he came down on his day off, came down to the yard, emptied his truck, cleaned out the whole truck and helped me with my stuff…”
Boulet has been told he’s in line to receive a new T660 when one becomes available. In the waning hours of the eve of the Convoy, the pink decals were applied. No detail was overlooked, even the ‘Fire Extinguisher Inside’ and Champagne’s handle ‘Cocotte’ (a French term of endearment, like ‘sweetie’ or ‘hon’) were relettered in pink.
The white and pink T660 and Great Dane reefer trailer will continue to raise awareness of the campaign year-round, helping ensure that next year’s event is even bigger and more successful.
The unique fundraiser is gaining a lot of attention, especially when the cheques are written and handed off to the Canadian and American Breast Cancer Foundations. Per capita, there’s no other event like it.
“If you look at the number of participants we have, it averages between $500 and $1,000 per participant,” Champagne said. “For such a small community of female truckers, I think we do amazing.”