Rally raises big money for Fondation Jeunes-PROJET

by Carroll McCormick

BROSSARD, Que. – Forty-seven truckers and their high-school student co-pilots drove a 160-kilometre course through Montreal May 2 to help raise money for Fondation Jeunes-PROJET, a non-profit organization supported by Revenue Canada that supports the school community by helping students initiate, plan and execute classroom projects.

Between the participating carriers and other events in this ninth annual youth rally, attended by 2,000 people, Fondation raised $68,233.

“This was our biggest year,” said Fondation’s project officer Karine Beauregard. “Last year we raised $50,000. We raise more money each year.”

The truck rally began in Boucherville, at the head office of Rona and Reno Depot, which were the rally’s main sponsors.

The trucks, whose companies each paid a $600 entrance fee, followed a 160-km course that took them north to Laval and back down to the Antoine-Brossard secondary school in Brossard.

Every driver was accompanied by a student from Agora, an alternative secondary school in nearby Greenfield Park.

The co-pilot’s job was to interpret a set of route instructions and read them out for the driver to follow.

The criteria for winning included completing the course in the shortest time and racking up the least number of out-of-route kilometres. The trucks had to stop at 13 checkpoints and answer questions about their route.

“We started at 9:30 a.m. and we went through Montreal, Laval, Pierrefond, Lachine, LaSalle…,” said Marilyne Lapierre, a driver with AGD Verchres Express Inc. in Verchres.

The company moves containers, flatbeds, dry boxes, oversize, dangerous goods, and has participated in the rally for seven years.

Other trucking companies approached by Rona to participate, included Pepsi, North American, Boiseries Raymond, Papineau International, Danfreight Systems Inc., Guilbault, The Bay, Beaudry, l’Ecole Routier Professionelle, Le Group Pro-Jean and Groupe Lagu.

Lapierre, who was in the rally for the first time, had a 15-year-old co-pilot. “My co-pilot was pretty good. This was her third or fourth year.”

Another AGD Verchres Express Inc driver, Jean Jacques Guirdon also took part for the first time. His co-pilot was a 14-year-old boy.

The grand prize for the rally went to Ronald Paquette of Rona and his co-pilot Francis Bdard-Ptrin.

The second prize went to Albert Lessard of Transport Xtra B, and his co-pilot Charles Babin. Maurice Suppere of Groupe Boutin and his co-pilot Marc-Antoine Sarrazin won the third prize.

Lapierre won a prize for her mastery in negotiating her B-train through the route, which included lots of tough city driving.

Jose Cossette of Transport Papineau International won the truck inspection prize and Transport Georges Lger had the most beautiful truck.

As the trucks rolled into the school parking lot, the drivers shut down their rigs and started the rodeo part of the competition.

Using 30-foot pups supplied by Metro, they drove a skills course that included tight turns, backing up and driving as close to a stop bar as possible.

This part of the competition was judged by Donald Porlier of Robert Transport. Porlier is an award-winning trucker and one of the Quebec Trucking Association’s Highway Ambassadors, who have been promoting and publicizing the trucking profession since the program’s launch in 2001.

The rodeo champion was Gatan Bdard of SGT 2000. Second prize went to Marc-Andr Guindon of Transport Herv Lemieux.

Denis Bourgeois of Roland Boulanger Inc. took third prize.

So what is all the money used for?

Originally the money was used to support educational projects in Quebec’s 25 alternative schools, as different ways to learn about things than just from books. For example, a class project that involves recreating period costumes would get funding from the Fondation for fabrics.

More recently the funds have been finding their way into traditional schools as well.

One project the Fondation funded was in Quebec City, where a class of 30 students wanted to help people in poor countries.

“They asked elderly ladies to come to their classroom and teach them how to knit. We paid for the yarn and the ladies’ transportation. Later, the students sent their handiwork to a leper colony in Nigeria,” said Beauregard.

So on the first Sunday of every May, the transport truck you are following just might be a good soul and his or her co-pilot hustling through Montreal, doing their “bonne action” (good deed) for keen students.

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