Owner-op-founded Alabama truck show and foundation for Lowe Syndrome kick off

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Updated May 3, 2024

Thomas Sullivan's 2015 Kenworth T680Thomas Sullivan's 2015 Kenworth T680 is a rolling awareness campaign for Lowe Syndrome. Since so many children affected by the condition wear sunglasses, the truck features specs all over it, and each pair is accompanied by the name of a child who suffers with the condition. The truck also features numerous custom touches related to Lowe Syndrome -- the grille, for instance, features sunglasses-shaped cut-outs.

Truck shows start up for a variety of reasons, some simply for fun and fellowship among the trucking community, others to raise money for a specific charity, and much more in between.

The Show for Lowe’s, now in its fourth year, launched with a charitable purpose. Hamilton, Alabama-based owner-operator Thomas Sullivan, who calls the show more of a “cruise in” than a truck show, started it in 2021 to raise money and awareness for the Lowe Syndrome Association.

It's a rare genetic condition, typically found only in males, that can affect the eyes, brain and kidneys; muscle growth; and more. It affects approximately 1 in 500,000 people. Sullivan’s son, Waylon, was born with Lowe Syndrome in December 2018.

Waylon SullivanThomas Sullivan started the Waylon Sullivan Foundation after his son, Waylon (pictured), was born with Lowe Syndrome. The foundation helps other families with children diagnosed with Lowe Syndrome.

Owner-operator Sullivan said his son was born with cataracts, the first red flag. “After a lot of genetic testing, it was determined he had Lowe Syndrome,” he said. “Each kid, it varies on how severe Lowe Syndrome is.”

Sullivan wanted to do something to help raise money, first looking toward helping the Lowe Syndrome Association. That group is largely geared toward research into the disease, which Sullivan recognizes as extremely important. However, he wanted to do something more to help the individual families affected by the condition, too.

“I was laying on the couch one night and one of the Lowe Syndrome boys had passed away,” Sullivan said. “We got word that the mother was about $1,500 short of paying for the funeral. It just popped in my head, ‘What if I went and opened an account and helped these families?’”

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After mulling it over for a couple weeks and still feeling strongly about it, he decided to make some calls around the Lowe Syndrome community, “and everybody thought it was a great idea.”

The Waylon Sullivan Foundation was born.

“With our kids’ conditions, it’s almost impossible to get life insurance because of the quality of life and all that,” Sullivan said. “So we help pay for funeral expenses, medical expenses, any kind of financial hardship due to the child being hospitalized, since that causes a family to miss work. If they need help with rent, gas, light bill, they can reach out to us; we’re here to help.”

Show Flyer

The idea for the truck show came around the same time as the foundation was established. Sullivan, an owner-operator leased to Robertson Trucking out of Detroit, Alabama, mulled it over with other Lowe Syndrome families as benefit for the kids, and he received a ton of support.

The first edition in 2021 happened shortly before the foundation was fully established. Sullivan and about 20 trucking friends planned to “get together, eat, hang out and raise money,” he said, but that first event saw 40 trucks show up and raise a little over $13,000.

The show grew in the second year, with 76 trucks in attendance. Last year, Sullivan said poor weather leading up to the event likely hindered attendance, but 55 trucks still showed.

Show for Lowe’s this year is upcoming Saturday, May 4, at the Marion County Airport (550 Dr. Pyle Drive) in Hamilton, Alabama. It will be held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. New for the show this year, Sullivan is expanding the reach, “opening it up to a little bit of everything. If it’s got wheels and you’re proud of it, bring it,” he said. “Come park, have a good time.”

The family-friendly event is free for the public to attend and will feature food and drink vendors, an ice cream vendor, bounce houses for kids, raffle tickets with proceeds going to the Waylon Sullivan Foundation, T-shirts and hats available for purchase, live entertainment and more.

Truckers interested in bringing their trucks to show can register ahead of time online. The registration fee for trucks is $50, while cars can register for $25 and motorcycles and any other automobiles for $20.

Awards will be handed out during the show, but not in the traditional truck show manner. Sullivan said 10 special needs children will be picked to choose the truck they like, and those trucks will receive awards. Show organizers may also pick a couple of trucks as honorable mentions, Sullivan noted.

[Related: Truck shows' 2023 haul for charity: $2M-plus]