ILDERTON, Ont. — The third annual Trucking for Kids truck show was held here June 9-10, with more trucks than ever before participating. Organizer Colleen Manning said there were 169 trucks on site, up from the 148 that took part last year.
Many were decked out with stuffed animals or arranged with bowls of candy for visiting children. The event, which also features a car show and a kids’ zone, raises money for two charities that Manning and her husband J.R. – a truck driver – hold dear.
Ronald McDonald House and the Children’s Hospital at London Health Sciences Centre came to the couple’s aid when their son Samuel was born premature in 2015. Once Samuel had recovered, the Mannings wanted to give back to the charities, and decided to call on truckers for support.
“I floated the idea of a truck show before we were even out of the hospital,” J.R. Manning told Truck News at this year’s show. “I threw it up on Facebook and everybody said ‘We’ll come out.’ We settled our life back out and got to it and it far exceeded our expectations.”
The first show in 2016 raised about $30,000, which was split evenly between the two organizations. Last year another $37,000 was raised. This year, $45,000 was raised, bringing the three-year total to more than $112,000.
Which is far more than the couple thought possible that first year.
“We said if we raised $1,000, we will be happy with that, and we raised $15,000 the first year for each of the charities,” J.R. added.
Owner-operator Mark Desjardine was one of the truckers who came out to support the show. He has a first-hand experience with the charities the event raised money for.
“Elizabeth is my granddaughter. She was born premature and spent two weeks in the children’s hospital and my daughter and her husband spent the same amount of time at Ronald McDonald House,” Desjardine told Truck News in front of his truck, its grille decorated as a tribute to Elizabeth. “Those are pretty amazing facilities.”
Elizabeth is now a healthy two-year-old. Ronald McDonald House provides housing for family members when their children are being treated at the children’s hospital.
“Those are such great causes we are raising money for and that’s what’s bringing a lot of people here,” said Colleen Manning. “Everybody wants to support the kids. If they are at Ronald McDonald House, they are at the London Children’s Hospital and they’re having a rough time.”
This year’s Trucking for Kids show featured an expanded kids’ zone and merchandise for sale, with proceeds going to the charities. Also new this year, kids were able to vote for their favorite truck, which was to be declared the Kids’ Choice Award.
Manning said the show has expanded beyond what was thought possible, and she thanked the entire community, all the truck drivers, sponsors, the committee members and volunteers for making it possible.
“It’s definitely a community effort,” she said. “It’s everybody who steps foot on the ground here.”
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies