MATS AND MORE: For truckers, it's the social event of the year

| 3/13/2013

The Mid-America Trucking Show is due to rock Louisville March 21-23. Not only is MATS the big daddy of all trucking tradeshows, but it’s the king when it comes to activities organized by truck drivers. In fact, it’s a whirlwind of social activities that’s getting so busy you may need a day planner and a dance card.

OOIDA Life Member Lee Strebel of Peachtree City, GA, has been involved with the organization of these activities for years. He stopped by OOIDA headquarters this week to update us on what’s happenin’.

At 5 p.m., Thursday, March 21, Truckers United for Charities will be grilling in the parking lot at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium to benefit Camp Quality Kentuckiana and Truckers Against Trafficking. So while the food is free, contributions to the camp for kids with cancer and for TAT are appreciated.

At 6 p.m., Thursday, the JRB Memorial fund will be serving a spaghetti and meatball dinner in memory of owner-operator and OOIDA Life Member Rusty Wade, who died of cancer on Jan. 24. The meatball has special significance, and if you stop by to partake and drop a few bills in the jar – we are certain you will hear why that menu was chosen and more good Rusty stories.

Ever wonder if you could be hypnotized? Here’s your chance. At 8:30 p.m. Thursday night, a hypnotist will entertain on the OOIDA stage.

Also, a silent auction is scheduled for Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings with the winners announced Saturday night. All of these activities will be held at Papa John’s parking lot.

Friday features a 1.5-mile “Driver Health Walk” at 2 p.m. at the Kentucky Expo Center, Room B103. The event is hosted by Trucking Solutions Group, a group of professional truck drivers, and co-hosted by TA/Petro. OOIDA Member and owner-operator Linda Caffee is a member of TSG. Linda says you can preregister at The walk will follow a TA/Petro luncheon, and goodie bags will be provided to walkers by TA/Petro while they last.

Back over at Papa John’s, Truckers United for Charities will again be grilling beginning at 5 p.m.

At 5 p.m., more fun is planned in the way of charity camaraderie, karaoke and Trucker Talent Spotlight. At 8 p.m. a local group called Bourbon Country performs on the OOIDA stage.

If bike riding is your thing, be sure to bring your bicycles to MATS this year because on Saturday truckers have organized a bike ride to benefit St. Christopher Fund. Riders should meet at 8 a.m. Saturday at the OOIDA stage in Papa John’s parking lot. Its organizer is Brian Chute aka “Shalako.” Brian says the duration of the ride should not exceed two hours.

On Saturday, Truckers United for Charities will again be grilling, starting at 4 p.m. At 4:30 p.m., Strebel says there will be pet games thanks to Operation Roger, and at 5 p.m. a National Day of Prayer for Truckers will hold an event at the OOIDA stage.

The National Anthem will be performed by OOIDA Member Jan McCarter. Following the prayer, Jerry and Sharon Benson will perform. Sharon has won the Favorite Female Vocalist of the Year in gospel music. Jerry is an owner-operator.

Bob Hataway of TransAlive will be the emcee and Chaplain Joe Hunter will offer the prayer. At that time, two individuals who passed away recently will be honored. Dale “Truckin’ Bozo” Sommers and Rusty Wade will be acknowledged for the numerous contribution they made to the industry. Plaques sponsored by TransAlive will be presented by Hataway. Both Rusty and Dale were life members of OOIDA.

At 7 p.m., you’re invited to a live auction planned by Operation Roger and Trucker Charity. Representatives from these groups say there are some great items for truckers.

On Saturday night, JRM Memorial fund will announce the winners of the silent auction.

Winding it up Saturday at Papa John’s is the big event on the OOIDA stage and it all starts at 8 p.m. Country western artist Leland Martin and his band will perform and if it’s anything like last year, come early and bring your lawn chair as it’s a full house. The concert is sponsored by OOIDA.

On the OOIDA stage at 9:30 a.m. Sunday morning, Chaplain Joe will conduct the annual worship service.
Strebel says there are a number of ongoing driver activities that will be front and center at MATS.

“For example, the Rig of Change, which is a fundraiser that aims to collect 80,000 pounds of change for the St. Christopher Fund,” says Lee.

For the Rig of Change, you can make donations at the OOIDA truck and trailer, which will be at Papa John’s, or at the Women in Trucking Salute at the Expo Center on Saturday.”

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