ILDERTON, Ont. — When Colleen Manning and her family received the help of Ronald McDonald House Charities and the Children’s Hospital at London Health Sciences Centre after the premature birth of their son in 2015, she knew she had to give back. And when it came to finding a way to give back, she knew she could rely on trucking.
J.R. Manning holds son Samuel, whose premature birth inspired his parents to launch the Trucking for Kids Show. J.R.’s wife Colleen Manning and their daughter Madison are pictured at right.
Manning’s husband J.R. is an owner-operator and is well connected with other drivers in the area through social media. With son Samuel fully recovered from arriving here early, the couple set out last year to start a truck show aimed at raising funds for the two charities that helped them out so much.
“My husband and I had a premature baby born three weeks early on June 30, 2015,” Colleen Manning told Truck News at the second annual Trucking for Kids Show June 10. “He was in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for two weeks. We stayed at Ronald McDonald House because we were an hour from London. That place is phenomenal and all the nurses and staff at the hospital were phenomenal. So, we wanted to give back.”
Ilderton, Ont., is now home to one of Ontario’s largest truck shows. In its first year, more than 100 trucks were on show, and about $30,000 was raised for the two charities. All money raised through the event goes directly to the charities, Manning noted. This year, the show was even bigger, with at least 160 trucks taking part. No awards are presented – it’s all about pride in the profession.
“There are no awards at all,” she explained. “It’s just for the drivers to get together and for kids to come out and have fun. We don’t want the politics that go along with awards.”
Many of the trucks were from Southwestern Ontario, but there were also some from the Ottawa area. In addition to the truck show, there were kids’ activities, antique cars, food trucks, and vendors. The trucks began rolling into the Ilderton Fairgrounds – just north of London, Ont. – at bout 11 p.m. Friday June 9 and many were there through Sunday. The organized kids’ activities ran from 11 a.m. till 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 10.
Last year’s inaugural fundraiser was a huge success, and while the total collected this year hadn’t yet been tallied by press time, Manning assured it would be far greater than last year.
“This year we went into the show with $30,000 already,” she said, attributing the running start to event sponsors. Visitors to the show can make a donation of any size to get past the gates – there’s no set entry fee.
Manning said the community and trucking industry have been so supportive, that she sees it continuing as an annual event and getting bigger each year.
“I want to thank everybody that has come and everybody who supports this, including the committee,” Manning said. “This couldn’t be done without everybody being involved.”
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