GBATS Special Olympics convoy arrives, departs and raises $190K-plus

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Updated Jan 30, 2019

If you’ve never been to 4 State Trucks’ Guilty by Association Truck Show, you’ll have to wait until September 2020 to take part in what might be its main event, so to speak — the record-setting (for the last several years, anyway) convoy from the show site around 4 State at exit 4 on I-44 to downtown Joplin, where a party amid trucks lined up three-four abreast for miles along Main Street ensues. It all serves to benefit Special Olympics in the World’s Largest Truck Convoy series, which takes place in a variety of locales around the country.

This year, notes 4 State’s Karen Thomas, a grand total of 522 trucks joined the convoy to downtown, yet “another record,” Thomas says, for the event. Trucks showing at GBATS came in record numbers, too, with 693 total, raising the bar yet again.

With the economy doing fairly well this year and freight availability high, truckers’ bedrock generosity came out in spades, setting a very high bar for future events by raising more than $190K for Special Olympics, around $70K above the event’s previous record, noted Thomas on Tuesday as the tally continued to rise.

Donnie and Beverly Ledgerwood of Birch Tree, Mo., bid $18,000 to claim the lead spot in the convoy, a record for the first-place bid itself.Donnie and Beverly Ledgerwood of Birch Tree, Mo., bid $18,000 to claim the lead spot in the convoy, a record for the first-place bid itself.

The high bar Bossman Bryan Martin and 4 State’s 130 or so employees have set for themselves with GBATS is one of the reasons, Thomas says, organizers decided to move from the annual schedule to once every two years. Martin has been “very proud of the fact that every year it’s gotten bigger and better,” she says. “By giving everyone the year off, we can brainstorm and come up with bigger, better, brighter ideas.”

What’s more, this year, when preregistered trucks hit the 748 number, organizers panicked a bit about where exactly they would put everybody. With more time between shows, there’s some opportunity to prepare for growth, expanding in new areas around all the involved businesses.

Thomas says Martin is hoping the 2020 event might “hit 900 or 1,000” trucks, she says.

If you’re bummed about missing GBATS next year, you’re not alone: the city of Joplin and area businesses will no doubt miss the influx of cash to the area. Thomas says the owner of a downtown hardware store, a place that wouldn’t be top of mind normally as one particularly affected by the event, told her their business during GBATS week experiences a near 20 percent revenue increase.

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End of the day, she hopes the truckers who are the backbone of the show, “when they come back in 2020, we’ll blow their minds and they’ll say, ‘We get it,'” as it pertains to the delay.

See you there in 2020, drivah?

Child signaling for truck driver to pull the horn