Riding for the Kids

| September 29, 2009

Annual Convoy for Kids event raises money for local St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital


Russ Harris of Mason City, Ill., constantly looks for opportunities to get truckers involved in their local communities. So when he had the chance two years ago to join with his brother Jim and their friend Troy Hines to organize a fund-raising event, he jumped at it.

“I wanted to give this event something else, something to really make it stand out and make it worthy,” he says. Harris turned what was first conceptualized as just a “hang-out” into a Convoy for Kids Truck Show to benefit the local St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital chapter. “With 22 trucks, we barely fit in my yard,” he says of the first event. “I knew this year we would need a bigger venue, so we moved to one of the local parks.”

More than 1,000 people came from as far as California to attend the event earlier this summer. It featured more than 40 trucks and an NHRA Funny Car and Dragster on display, along with games and a trucking quiz.

Harris dedicated the proceedings to 9-year-old Mason City resident Jessie Baugher, who has battled cancer the past three years. “The most rewarding part of the event is seeing Jessie come onstage and tell us which truck she likes most,” he says. “She was here last year, and to see her again this year is so wonderful.”

This year Jessie picked The Green Hornet, owned by Micky Gwilliam of Carlinville, Ill. The show’s first-place trophy went to Joe Evans of Eldred, Ill., second place to Gary Carlin of Mason City. Owner-operator Bob Bortell from Fort City, Ill., placed third. Brad Hull of Mason City won the Steve “Gravy” Arnold Memorial Award, dedicated to a Mason City trucker who was killed on the job.

Hull Trucking and Mason County Transfer sponsored a truckers and community supper followed by a convoy parade and a showing of Smokey & the Bandit.

Bortell says the event is about more than raising money for a worthy cause; it allows truckers to enjoy each other’s accomplishments. “I love coming out and getting to talk to other truckers and see what they are going through,” Bortell says. “It’s refreshing.”

Truckers raised money for St. Jude’s by setting canisters in front of each truck for monetary donations, raising $900 total. “This is the only event I know of where ballot stuffing is encouraged,” Harris says.

Bortell admits to being one of many truckers who happily participated in the activity. “I had four friends that put $20 each into my can,” he says. “I gave my daughters each a $20 bill for them to vote. They at least gave their dad $5 worth of credit back.”

Scott Hofreiter of San Diego, Calif., didn’t let the convoy’s location stop him from participating. Hofreiter, a driver with Kaiser Transport, regularly travels from the West Coast to Toronto, Ontario, passing through Illinois. “I really enjoy giving back to people – especially kids,” he says. “The distance didn’t bother me at all. In fact it was a nice break to get to see the kids smile and let them ride in the trucks.”

For information about future Convoy for Kids events, contact Russ Harris at (309) 657-1877.


Bringing Sexy Back
Dental group attempts to educate truckers, public on sleep apnea – By Misty Bell

In case you hadn’t heard, Dr. Laurence Barsh wants you to know that “Snoring Isn’t Sexy.” At least that’s the name Barsh, a D.M.D., gave his company, which targets those with sleep apnea and has a particular emphasis on helping truckers. Snoring Isn’t Sexy’s focus is identifying and treating potential sleep apnea patients through dentistry.

“It’s an alternative to a conventional treatment of CPAP for people who prefer not to wear a CPAP device, and there are people who can’t tolerate it,” Barsh says. “It’s also tough sometimes to find a place to plug a CPAP machine in.”

Snoring Isn’t Sexy, which can be found on the Web at www.snoring

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