Truckers plan Thursday auction at MATS to give Chance a chance

| 3/25/2008

“It’s all about truck drivers coming together to help a fellow driver in need,” explained Miles Verhoef. “Or in this case, the grandson of a driver.”

Doctors diagnosed osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, in OOIDA member Jim Rodgers’ 12-year-old grandson Chance Rodgers in October 2007. Chance is the son of Jennifer and Jim Rodgers Jr. He has three sisters, Shelby, Marilyn and Riley.

Almost overnight, the boy’s life was transformed from that of a happy, carefree sixth-grader to a cancer patient on an aggressive course of chemotherapy designed to save his life. His course of treatment is extensive, including surgeries, X-rays, constant monitoring and recurring trips to hospitals, some planned, some via the emergency room. It’s a tough road.

Last year at the Mid-America Trucking Show, Verhoef, Dave Smith and friends pulled together to help raise money for their cancer-stricken friend David “Rusty Nail” Broyles. They solicited donations from exhibitors, vendors and friends, and in almost no time at all put together an auction that raised more than $18,000.

This year, Verhoef, Smith and a growing list of volunteers have committed to helping Chance.

They’ve already enlisted the help of country-western recording artist Leland Martin. Martin, who’s currently on tour, has already raised more than $3,800. In 2007, he auctioned the pants off his backside for the cause. This time, he’s going to perform a full-blown concert at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 27, in the parking lot at Papa John’s Stadium. This year’s auction will begin immediately after the concert.

Jim’s wife, Marianne, is scheduled to have some back surgery soon, but she says her goal is to be at MATS if she has to be there in a wheelchair.

Chance Rodgers has a goal, too, and it’s a big one.

“I want to be a truck driver like my Papa Rodgers when I grow up,” he says on his Web site, “My favorite place to be is on the truck with my Papa.”

For more information, contact Colleen Sims at Gulf Coast Filters 1-800-398-8114.

For updates from the show floor at MATS, check out Land Line’s “Pork Chop Diaries Blog” by clicking here.

– By Suzanne Stempinski, field editor