For the 26th consecutive year, truckers will do their part to raise money for the Philadelphia, Northern Delaware and Susquehanna Valley chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The Mother’s Day Convoy will be held on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 10 in Lancaster, Pa. Paulette Battenfelder, regional executive director of the Make-A-Wish chapter, said the convoy started as a granted wish in 1990 and has become the chapter’s biggest fundraiser.
“A young man asked to ride in an 18-wheeler and to talk to his sister on a CB radio,” she said. “In an answer to that request, 42 drivers showed up who wanted to be a part of it. Of course, we only needed one truck to grant the wish, so the convoy was born.”
Each year since that wish was granted, the event has been held on Mother’s Day in Lancaster. Over the years, the number of trucks has grown to as many as 450 with more than 100 wish children as passengers. Battenfelder said approximately 30 percent of participating trucks are able to take a child.
“We average around 335 trucks and 110 wish children each year,” she said. “Not all of the children can ride, and not all of the drivers can have a child ride, but still about 30 percent of participating trucks have wish children riding in them during the convoy. If a child can’t ride, they spend time walking between the trucks and talking to the drivers.”
The event is held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will consist of food, games and an auction, in addition to the convoy. The auction starts at the beginning of the event and runs until all items are gone. Battenfelder said a variety of items will be available this year, including a flat of flowers, tickets to Disney World and a handcrafted, wooden tractor-trailer painted with a Make-A-Wish design.
“The handcrafted truck is a special item that drivers enjoy bidding on,” she added.
The convoy will leave the Burle Business Park in Lancaster at 1:30 p.m. and go on an approximate 15-mile loop back to the park.
“Drivers pay $100 to register to enter the convoy, and we ask them to raise more money for the wish children,” Battenfelder said. “The amount they raise during the year determines how the top 30 will line up in the convoy. There’s a lot of competition between the drivers to see who will lead the convoy, but all of the drivers say it’s for the kids and believe whatever they can do to help is great.”
Battenfelder said the convoy raises approximately $300,000 each year for the Make-A-Wish chapter.
This years’ presenting sponsor for the convoy is RoadPro, a family of brands dedicated to bringing the comforts of home to the road. Chuck White, RoadPro’s vice president of marketing and development, said this is the company’s first year to sponsor the convoy.
“One of the core tenants of our corporate parent is to have a stewardship heart, and we believe it’s the right of every child to have the love and security of family,” White said. “We found this event right underneath our nose in Lancaster. Professional drivers are who we serve, and this is something that is close to their hearts.”
White said he discovered the convoy one year as he was driving along the route.
“There were people lining the streets and overpasses, cars parked along the side of the road…I thought the president was coming through,” he said. “That’s the kind of impact this convoy has in this area.”
For information on ways to support the convoy, visit the Make-A-Wish Philadelphia, Northern Delaware and Susquehanna Valley website.