Record-breaking convoy earns $51,500 for Special Olympians

| 7/26/2002

OOIDA was well represented among the 248 trucks in the Special Olympics longest convoy July 20 in Orlando, FL. Organized by the Orange County (FL) Sheriff's Office, this fundraiser raised a little more than $51,500 to help more than 15,000 children and adults with mental retardation and/or severe handicaps through Special Olympics Florida.

OOIDA board member Woody Chambers and his wife Paula, Hoffman Estates, IL, represented OOIDA in the association's truck and trailer. OOIDA member Paul Sasso, Edgewater, FL, took time out of helping with the event to drive his 1998 Kenworth T600 in the convoy. Members Bob and Nancy Drummond of Coco, FL, participated, driving their show truck, a 1989 Kenworth W900B named "Ain't God Good" with a 1998 Great Dane steel reefer. About a dozen more OOIDA member decals were spotted, reported Sasso.

"They greeted us with signs saying 'Truckers rule!' 'Go convoy!' and 'We love truckers!' and hugs," said Sasso. "Now, I'm not a sappy person, or touchy feely, but it was like running the gauntlet of hugs, the look in their eyes and the thank you's, it was all genuine."You got the feeling the world was right no matter what problems we have in our industry. With all the problems these kids have, they were really happy. They gave me the opportunity to do something, to make somebody's life a little bit better and to see life in a different light. Life ain't like everybody sees it out here. I get up and wash my face; these kids can't do anything like that. It's just humbling."

The trucks gathered at the Waterford Lakes Shopping Center at the intersection of Alafaya Trail (SR 434) and 408 (East-West Expressway) in Orlando and drove about 16 miles, ending at the Central Florida Fairgrounds.

Event participants were in designated sponsor categories based on the amount of their donations: convoy participant, $100; silver sponsor, $1,000; gold sponsor, $2,500; guardian sponsor, $5,000. OOIDA was a silver sponsor.The donations from the truck convoy will benefit Special Olympics, which allows one million athletes with mental retardation to demonstrate courage and experience a sense of accomplishment that comes with representing their communities in athletic events around the world.
--René Tankersley, feature editor