CORNWALL, Ont. - This convoy is gaining a lot of momentum. What began as the brainchild of professional driver Rachele Champagne as she motored down the 401 one night in a small convoy including two o...
CORNWALL, Ont. –This convoy is gaining a lot of momentum. What began as the brainchild of professional driver Rachele Champagne as she motored down the 401 one night in a small convoy including two other female drivers, has now grown into a North America-wide event.
The first all-female Convoy for a Cure, aimed at raising money for breast cancer research, garnered a lot of attention last October after 29 drivers raised $15,000.
This year, Champagne said there will be three Convoys for a Cure: the original in Cornwall, Ont. on Oct. 3; another in Edmonton, Alta., also on Oct. 3; one in Moncton, N. B. on Oct. 17; and the first US version, which will take place in Dallas, Texas on Oct. 24. (Each convoy is held in October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month).
“Convoy for a Cure is going international this year,” Champagne excitedly told Truck West. Each of the events will have a similar itinerary and a common goal -to raise money for breast cancer research.
Word spread quickly after Champagne’s inaugural campaign last year, and she’s been approached by female drivers from all over, who wish to contribute.
“They’re all doing really well,” Champagne said of the new organizers. “I can’t believe how much energy the girls have and how they’re putting their own hearts and souls into this. These convoys are going to be really wicked -I can’t wait to see the end result.”
Kristin McCallum is organizer of the Alberta convoy. She’s finding out first-hand how difficult it is to attract sponsors in an economic downturn. However she’s forging ahead with the event, regardless.
“It’s going slow so far,” she admitted. “We’re having some trouble with sponsorship, but we’re going to go ahead with it regardless, just on a smaller scale.”
McCallum hopes female drivers will ask their carriers to get involved as well and she’s sticking to her target of 29 trucks and $15,000 -in line with the results from the inaugural convoy.
The Alberta convoy will set out from the Husky Truck Stop in Acheson, Alta. (at Hwy. 60 and 16) and conclude at the Roadking Travel Centre in Sherwood Park. McCallum will be attending the Pro-Trucker Alberta Big Rig Weekend Aug. 29-30 to rally up some support, she said.
The New Brunswick convoy is being spearheaded by Caroline Wood. Back at the Cornwall convoy, Champagne hopes to double last year’s participation -from 29 trucks to 60 -and is confident the funds will also be increased twofold, from $15,000 to $30,000 on this leg alone.
Men can’t drive in the convoy itself, but they are welcomed to participate in other ways.
“The only thing the men can’t do is drive in the convoy; that was the whole point of this -to have an all-female convoy,” Champagne said. “But they can sit in the passenger seat, they can volunteer, help with set-up, barbecue, clean the trucks. Lots of guys participated last year that way. We always need a hand, it’s a big event.”
Perhaps the biggest contribution male truck drivers can make is to help spread the word about the event, Champagne suggested.
“The best way anybody can help is to spread the word. Talk about it on the CB. Even if it’s them saying ‘Hey, we should go because there’ll be a lot of trucker chicks’,” she joked.
Participants in the Ontario convoy will gather at the Fifth Wheel in Cornwall, Ont. beginning at 8 a. m. Women will be treated to breakfast and they’ll gather to clean the trucks and pose for photos. At noon, the convoy will receive a police escort down the 401 to the 730 Truck Stop in Cardinal, Ont.
There, participants will enjoy a barbecue, draw prizes and hear from some guest speakers.
Or, you can also catch up with Champagne at the OBAC booth at the Fergus Truck Show July 23-26. OBAC is getting involved in the program by hosting an OOIDA/NASCAR racing simulator at its booth and offering rides in exchange for donations to Convoy for a Cure. OBAC also promises to donate $5 of each membership sold at the show towards Convoy for a Cure. •