Parading with Purpose

More than 70 trucks take part in this year’s Truckers Parade Against Cancer.

After her mother died from breast cancer, Sheila Jones and her husband Darrin wanted to find a way to raise money for cancer research. Their solution was to organize the Truckers Parade Against Cancer, a 30-40 mile convoy through Virginia’s Charlotte County. That was in 2001.

In its first three years, the parade raised $52,000. Before this year’s Oct. 16 event, Sheila predicted that total to exceed $69,000. The parade has blossomed from a 40-truck event to one that weighs in with more than 70 trucks.

Each trucker pays a $250 entry fee that is donated to the American Cancer Society. Before the parade begins, all registrants meet at the Joneses’ house to organize the parade order and decorate the trucks. Each truck is adorned with a banner on its grill in honor or memory of a loved one who is fighting cancer or has been lost to the disease.

Last year more than 1,000 people lined the Charlotte County roads to watch the parade roll by, Sheila says.

“It is unbelievable what this has done,” Sheila says. “I would like to thank all the truckers that volunteer their time and money, and spend time washing their trucks, to help our event.”
Lance Orr

The Volunteer Bug
Trucker donates time, money and energy to people and pets

What started as a single selfless act has snowballed into an all-out volunteer effort for one Wal-Mart driver.

Gary Jeranson of Prescott Valley, Ariz., first caught the volunteering bug when he donated his time at a food drive, then helped deliver the collected food to the local food bank in Yavapai County.

“I thought I’d get in on it and bring stuff up to my community,” he says. “[Wal-Mart] gave me a bunch of stuff. That first year, they donated probably about 20,000 to 30,000 goods out of the warehouse. We actually delivered in a Wal-Mart truck.”

But that effort was just the beginning. Jeranson, 47, and his wife also held a cookout at Wal-Mart’s distribution center in Buckeye, Ariz., to benefit the Yavapai County food bank, which serves about 15 small area communities.

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“We came up with $1,000 from the drivers, and then Wal-Mart matched it,” Jeranson says. “We also donated something like $3,000 to that food bank that year. So the drivers are very generous down there, too.”

Jeranson has worked for Wal-Mart for the past three years and hauled for Better Built for 20 years. He says he hauled cars for about a year and a half before joining on with Wal-Mart.

When a heart attack left Jeranson unable to work for three months last year, he didn’t give up his volunteer work. He began volunteering at the local Humane Society, walking dogs as exercise and for “something to do,” he says. Since then, he has been delivering dog food, cat food and various supplies to the Humane Society from Wal-Mart, Nestle-Purina and a local cat food warehouse.

“I got to know the people really good and got to find out that they do a lot of services to the community that people don’t know about,” Jeranson says. “I felt good about it, and they helped me out a lot in my health, so I tried to incorporate [the Humane Society] into my deal with the county food bank.”

Jeranson says there was recently a Petapalooza event in his county, and his boss donated a whole pallet of bottled water, about 2,000 pounds.

“They just tell me, ‘whatever you need.’ They’re all actually very helpful and they really don’t want any recognition as far as Wal-Mart,” Jeranson says. “I’ve seen them do lots of things over the three years I’ve been there. The stores, just as well as the distribution centers – they jump on the gun with that local stuff.”

Nowadays, the veteran driver just uses his own 5×10-foot trailer and pickup truck to deliver goods.

“I can haul about 4,000 or 5,000 pounds of stuff with my pickup,” he says.

He has kept up his work with both the food bank and the Humane Society. Jeranson estimates that in the past year, he has delivered about 20,000 pounds of food and hygiene products like shampoo and soap to the Yavapai County food bank.

“Things are so expensive nowadays, and it’s tough for everyone. You get mothers with two or three kids and no husband around. It’s just never-ending,” he says. “There’s older couples that come in there in their 60s and 70s, and those small little items help out. It doesn’t have to be just food. It just helps out, and it’s tough being in that position.”

Jeranson estimates that he has delivered about 2,000 pounds of pet food to the Humane Society in the past year.

“It’s the same way with the Humane Society. They clean the kennels all the time

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