BRAMPTON, Ont. – It was a rainy, gloomy, humid, miserable Saturday in Brampton, but that wasn’t enough to chase away the radiant smiles and bright spirits of the Special Olympians gathered at the Powerade Centre and the truckers who were there to support them.
The event was the first-ever World’s Largest Truck Convoy for Special Olympics to be held in the Greater Toronto Area, run concurrently with the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics sponsored by Peel Regional Police. The event, traditionally held only in Paris, Ont., will also be run in its usual location next weekend.
“Drivers wanted to have a closer place to come as opposed to going to Paris,” said convoy organizer Don Dunphy. “Peel Police said ‘We’ll host it and bring it to the GTA’.”
Twenty-nine trucks participated, which Dunphy said was a good number for a first-time event. While the funds raised hadn’t been fully counted, Dunphy said he felt the event was on pace to raise more than $20,000 for Special Olympics, including money raised by the Law Enforcement Torch Run and on-site activities such as a 50-50 draw and auction.
Even the 407/ETR got on-board, signing on as a corporate sponsor and waiving the fees for all convoy participants. The free-flowing 407 was a nice alternative to traffic-choked Hwy. 401. About 30 Special Olympics athletes participated in various ways; some rode in trucks, others in police cruisers and the majority in a police bus that followed along in the convoy.
Dunphy said there were no complaints about the weather.
“We had a little bit of rain but the riders dressed for it, the truckers don’t care and the athletes – rain or shine, they’re all for it and having a great time,” he said. As if on cue, the skies cleared and the sun made an appearance just as the trucks rolled back into the Powerade Centre parking lot.
The Paris event traditionally draws about 80 trucks and Dunphy is hopeful that with some more awareness, the GTA convoy can match that number next year.
The lead truck belonged to Excel Transportation owner-operator Sauch Khannd. He said he thoroughly enjoyed leading such an important convoy. Excel had more trucks entered than any other company, a total of nine, and raised more than $5,000 between them, according to company president Roy McCullough.
“My wife works with Peel Police and we participated in the Torch Run in previous years, so we decided to get involved,” McCullough said.
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