Close to 100 trucks lined up early Saturday morning for the 10th annual: ‘World’s Largest Truck Convoy’ to raise money and awareness for the Special Olympics at the Paris fairgrounds in Ontario, Canada.
Eighty-nine trucks and police vehicles took a 132-kilometer trip around the fairgrounds as a crowd of smiling fans cheered and waited for their return and the big celebration following the parade.
“It’s about bonding. Many people keep coming out year after year,” former truck driver Stephane Gauthier of Eastern Ontario told the Brantford Expositor about the event.
Although Gauthier has not driven truck for four years, he’s been supporting the event since its beginning in 2005 raising hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars every year for the cause.
“I’ve been doing this so much I think of myself as a representative from East Ontario. It makes me realize how lucky I am. We complain about this and that, but we have it much better than so many others,” he said.
Organizers were hoping to get 100 trucks out for the occasion, but convoy coordinator Tammy Blackwell said it’s not about the numbers as much as the relationships formed between the olympians and supporters.
“Special Olympics has a way of bringing everyone together, setting aside differences, and building atmospheres of acceptance. The fact that law enforcement and truckers unite to promote awareness is a testament to the ways Special Olympics athletes are truly inspirational,” said Blackwell.
They also had a celebrity to help out at the event: Walter Gretzky circulated among the audience, chatting with supporters and signing autographs.
The event ended up raising $108,000 for the Special Olympics, bringing the 10-year total to $528,000. This amount exceeded the organization’s goal of half-a-million dollars within a decade.
“It took a lot of hands to make it happen, and we are grateful for all of them,” Blackwell said.