Updated: Charities hit Truck World for a good cause

Joaanne Mackenzie olds up a T-shirt at the Trucking for a Cure booth at Truck World

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – Maxine Shantz was quickly hooked on supporting Special Olympics.

The Home Hardware employee began volunteering for the cause’s Toronto-area branch six years ago, and has been involved ever since — including a day in the charity’s Truck World booth to recruit drivers, sell raffle tickets, and raise awareness.

Shantz says the booth at the biennial show offered great exposure for the organization’s work, and helped shine a light on the good things drivers do.

It was just one of several charities that participated in the show, raising awareness around causes from the Canadian Red Cross to the fight against cancer.

Trucks for Change used its presence as an opportunity to showcase the Canadian Red Cross, as it signed on new carriers who haul items for similar groups free of charge, or at a reduced rate. The savings on shipping and transportation costs go a long way toward helping charities focus on delivering services, said Trucks for Change president Pete Dalmazzi.

For its part, the Prostate Canada Cancer Network (PCCN) was on site to promote its annual Cruisin’ for a Cure car show held each September in Brampton, Ont.

Volunteer and cancer survivor Paul Henshall said the fall show n’ shine featuring trucks and cars of all kinds is just a tool to get men to take a simple blood test to help diagnose prostate cancer early. The event features a tent with nurses administering the pinprick test on site – and there is always a line. About 370 men were tested there last year.

At Truck World, the focus was an easygoing approach, with prostate cancer survivors answering questions and offering advice.

Henshall says having the booth at shows like Truck World help those conversations to reduce the stigma surrounding prostate cancer. Often men are afraid to be tested because the cancer and its treatment can have side effects that feel emasculating. Speaking to survivors helps to overcome those fears.

Joanne Mackenzie of Trucking for a Cure said her Truck World booth was busier than she’s seen in years. The organizer of the breast cancer charity and owner of the famous Pinky truck was selling T-shirts to raise money and awareness for her cause.

“It gets us out there, it gets people remembering we’re here. Being able to come in here and the generosity we receive… is amazing.”

In addition to selling the SWAG, Mackenzie used the weekend as a chance to reunite with drivers and remind them the Convoy for a Cure is coming in September.

Known for glitter-covered lanyards and T-shirts with cheeky sayings, Trucking for a Cure sold out of some of its more popular wares. All the proceeds go directly to the charity.

Charity-focused booths weren’t the only ones raising money for a good cause, though. Newcom Media’s Joe Glionna opened the show with a pledge of $5,000 toward industry fundraising efforts to support first responders involved in a fatal truck-bus collision in Humboldt, Sask.

Wounded Warriors Canada also had a presence with a newly wrapped trailer, showcasing its own support for first responders.

Firefighters and paramedics responding to incidents in small communities are often trained volunteers who don’t have the same resources as their full-time counterparts, adds Susan Ewart, executive director of the Saskatchewan Trucking Association. Those who rushed to the scene in the Saskatchewan crash have an entire budget of no more than $10,000 for psychological help.

“There just is nothing for them,” she said. “They have a real, immediate need.”

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