There are many great traditions in the trucking industry, but no doubt one of the best is the Make-A-Wish Mother’s Day Convoy held in Lancaster, PA.
Last year, the convoy hit a record-setting mark of 590 trucks, and while such numbers are impressive from a purely “chrome and steel” perspective, they don’t come close to telling the emotional stories of the sick children aided by this one-of-a kind fundraising effort.
Indeed, last year’s convoy – which claimed the Guinness Book of World Records title for World’s Longest Truck Convoy – raised more than $400,000 for the Make-A-Wish of Philadelphia, Northern Delaware & Susquehanna Valley chapter.
The RoadPro Family of Brands, based in nearby Palmyra, PA, has been the primary sponsor of the convoy since 2015 and shared a wonderful – if at times frightening – story about Eddie Perales and his 11-year-old son, Justin; a young boy who nearly died from a brain hemorrhage four years ago.
Eddie, who had been laid off shortly before his son fell ill and was recently hired as a salesman by RoadPro a year ago, remember that his son “almost died” from hemorrhage.
Yet there Justin was last year; sitting shotgun in a Freightliner Class 8 tractor driven by Henry Albert – an owner-operator out of Statesville, NC, and something of a fuel economy guru in trucking circles – with a huge beaming smile; a grin stretching from ear-to-ear.
“Look at him now, waving to everyone and offering hope to other families,” Eddie noted.
Justin is one of more than 100 children who ride in the annual convoy and one of thousands helped by its fundraising, and he’ll be back in the convoy this year with Albert, who absolutely loves doing this.
“I have been in the convoy eight years and I do it because it’s a great cause. The kids make it worth all the effort of being there,” Albert said.
Justin’s story is a tough one, too. Back in 2013, aged only seven, he collapsed during a family trip. Doctors diagnosed a brain hemorrhage caused by a congenital defect and he was flown by helicopter to Penn State Children’s Hospital in Hershey, PA. He was put into an induced coma for three weeks, surviving both a second hemorrhage and several operations.
A slow physical recovery followed, one entailing more surgeries and years of therapy. Yet now, four years later, Justin is back in school and doing much better. He still has some memory problems and he has not regained full use of his right hand, but his family is more grateful for the progress he’s made.
And there trucking is, helping to raise the funds to care for kids in dire situations like Justin’s. And they say there are no more knights of the road in the trucking industry. How wrong they are.