By Kerry Evans-Spillman,Land Line staff
Because a bunch of truckers are big old softies, 1,814 Special Olympics athletes in southwest Missouri will have more than $25,000 worth of opportunities to showcase their skills.
More than 160 trucks convoyed as part of the World’s Largest Truck Convoy for Special Olympics during the 2012 Guilty By Association Truck Show at 4 State Trucks in Joplin, MO, home of the Chrome Shop Mafia.
Bryan Martin, owner of 4 State Trucks and columnist for Land Line, said this was the biggest turnout yet with 264 trucks, 30 of which were Chrome Shop Mafia customs.
He said the 8,000 attendees brought with them a great energy and enthusiasm that’s already got him looking ahead to the 2013 event.
Among those attendees were Bruce and Marilyn Markworth. The couple used to truck long-haul and they drove team for a while. Now they’re on the OOIDA in-house team. Marilyn works in truck insurance with the Association. Bruce is a compliance agent in the Business Services Department. They’ve been to the last two Guilty By Association shows, and they’re already looking forward to attending in 2013.
The Markworths love truck shows in general, but this one has become a favorite because it offers a more relaxed atmosphere. They go to see the gorgeous trucks, but it’s seeing old friends, making new friends and getting to meet OOIDA members in person that keeps them going back again and again.
So technically, they were there to enjoy the show, but with OOIDA Senior Member Jon Osburn on the scene with the Association’s tour truck, the Markworths couldn’t resist joining him at the truck as unofficial ambassadors.
During the show, Jon Osburn earned himself a new nickname, “The Sticker Dude.” Kids visiting “The Spirit” were given an OOIDA sticker as Jon declared each of them as having rights because “truckers have rights, too.”
Word of stickers with truckers’ rights quickly spread to other kids at the show, making Jon a popular dude, indeed.
“Land Line Now” Host Mark Reddig was also in attendance and when Jon’s sticker duties kept him occupied, Mark passed out bags of OOIDA goodies to the athletes. Jon said Mark had a couple of tries on sticker patrol but Jon is still the reigning “Sticker Dude.”
On May 22, 2011, an EF5 tornado devastated Joplin. In the nearly 18 months since the disaster, the community has united to rebuild itself – and that spirit was felt by the Markworths.
Marilyn was touched by how the people have all come together to build their town back up.
“I’m impressed with the way Joplin has come back to life,” Marilyn said.
Bryan Martin told Land Line that he routinely hears comments about the progress Joplin has made.
“A lot of people were commenting on how fast things are taking place and how good Joplin is starting to look again,” he said.
Truckers know Joplin as a “trucking town” because of the concentration of trucking businesses in the area, including 4 State Trucks.
In addition to the show attendees, the convoy attracted spectators from the community along the route, which went through downtown Joplin then along the interstate, and which took about an hour.
Like the Markworths and Bryan Martin, Jon Osburn is looking forward to taking “The Spirit” back to Joplin in 2013 and he’s also eagerly anticipating other tour stops between now and then.
Bryan isn’t disclosing too many details yet, but his hopes for the 2013 GBATS are high. His biggest challenge will be topping this show but there are “some tricks up my sleeve,” he says.
Jon said the Guilty By Association show is one of the highlights of his summer. Members visiting “The Spirit” have impressed him with their willingness to get involved in issues affecting the industry. He’s been leaving his laptop open to truckvote.com so visitors can check it out.
As hard as truckers work at surviving in the business, they always seem to have time for a good cause like the World’s Largest Convoy.
It’s not at all surprising to the Markworths why truckers migrate to causes like Special Olympics.
Marilyn said it’s simple. “They’re caring, huge-hearted people.” LL