For many, Mother’s Day in Lancaster, Pa., Sunday was less about candy and flowers and more about jake brakes and revving diesel engines as truckers gathered for the 28th annual Make-A-Wish Convoy.
Some 595 trucks made the 29-mile round trip to nearby Ephrata and back to raise money for the charity that grants wishes to children diagnosed with life-threatening medical conditions. The day was expected to raise some $450,000 with the truckers themselves accounting for about $300,000 of that amount, according to Ben Lee, regional director for Make-A-Wish of Philadelphia, Northern Delaware and Susquehanna Valley. He said truckers from 13 states signed up for this year’s convoy. The money it raises pays for from 60 to 70 percent of the wishes granted to children in the Susquehanna Valley.
Kicking in $20,000 for the event was its presenting sponsor, the RoadPro Family of Brands, which is located in near Palmyra, Pa.
Just before the convoy hit the road, RoadPro’s Gina Bonafede presented the company’s donation of $20,000 to Dennis Heron, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish. Heron said the convoy was a “one of a kind event in the country” primarily because of the support of the drivers.
Bonafede also praised the drivers and said RoadPro’s involvement with Make-A-Wish and the convoy was a natural fit, and that there was “no better place for our team to be.”
Also during those ceremonies, time was taken to honor J.C. Hale, the man who originated the convoy – there were 40 trucks that first year – and who died in 2016. The convoy has been named in his honor. Also remembered were five “wish” children who succumbed to their illnesses since last year’s event.
One of the drivers in Sunday’s convoy was Gregory Crawford Sr., an owner-operator with his own authority from Elizabethtown, Pa. He raised $3,810 for the charity, enough to earn him the 15th spot in line.
He’s been driving trucks for 15 years, and for the last six years has had the same “wish” child, Layn Burger, with him in his 2016 Peterbilt with a 53-foot reefer.
Like other drivers spending their day off driving in the convoy, Crawford said he enjoys being able to help out children in need. He added that it was also, “the people on the route. It’s the one day of the year you can feel appreciated as a truck driver.”