The 7th annual World’s Largest Truck Convoy® presented by Quad/Graphics was held on Saturday, September 17th to raise money for the 10,000 athletes of Special Olympics Wisconsin. Truck drivers, athletes, volunteers, and law enforcement dedicated an early morning drive from Richfield to Oshkosh to help raise over $70,000 for the Law Enforcement Torch Run® event. As the sun began to rise, drivers registered their trucks, met athletes, and listened to a performance by special guest, Leland Martin, sponsored by JX Peterbilt.
Before the Convoy pulled out of the Pioneer Travel Plaza in Richfield, Wausau athlete and Convoy Marshal, Adam Domino welcomed the drivers and a live auction raised $6,800 for the athletes! The five lead-bidding trucks represented Independent Operator, TTI, YRC, and Harry H. Long Moving Storage & Express, Inc., while drivers from Kruepke Trucking and Blue Leasing Corporation, Inc. won bids to escort singer, Leland Martin and Convoy Media Marshal Caitlin Morrall, Today’s TMJ4’s "Road Warrior" Traffic Reporter. The treasured Convoy flag signed by athletes and drivers went home to a lead-bidder from Quad/Graphics.
Wisconsin State Patrol did a phenomenal job of directing traffic as 101 trucks, lead by Presenting Partner Quad/Graphics, pulled out one by one, cheered on by rows of enthusiastic athletes and their families. As the Convoy traveled up Highway 41, overpasses were packed with supporters holding signs cheering on the participants.Chuck Karnitz, state committee member and driver from Quad/Graphics has enjoyed the unique partnership between the trucking industry and law enforcement to benefit the athletes over the past seven years.
"The Convoy gives law enforcement and truck drivers the opportunity to work hand-in-hand together for these very special athletes," says Karnitz. "When I see all the Special Olympics athletes at the end of the Convoy it brings a tear to my eye, knowing how happy they are and how special they feel. No matter how old or young you are, these athletes will touch your heart."
Athletes and their families are grateful to all participants and look forward to the event every year. "As a mom of an athlete I can't say THANK YOU enough. It is awesome to see what hearts of gold each and every trucker has to help support our athletes," says Linda Brunner, mother of Special Olympics athlete and 2010 Convoy Marshal, Tyler Brunner.
"We have been attending this event for several years with Tyler. He so looks forward to going every year. We believe that he is tired at the end of the day because he didn't sleep the night before as he was waiting to get up and get to the Convoy! I also know that my husband Bob and I have shed a tear at some point in the day after watching and hearing the great things that happen to support athletes, moms, dads, and care givers," says Brunner.
2011 marks the 25th Anniversary of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Wisconsin. Compassion, joy and hope ignited a movement among law enforcement to spread awareness of individuals with cognitive disabilities and through their assistance with events statewide, the movement has raised over $17 million since 1986, with $520,000 raised through the World’s Largest Truck Convoy. Local law enforcement continued to show their support by playing a crucial role closing ramps and monitoring traffic during the Convoy. Thank you to the following departments for assistance throughout the event: Wisconsin State Patrol, Slinger Police Department, Waupun Police Department, Washington County Sherriff’s Office, Lomira Police Department, Fond du Lac County Sherriff’s Office, Fond du Lac Police Department, North Fond du Lac Police Department, Dodge County Sherriff’s Office, Winnebago County Sherriff’s Office, Wisconsin Department of Transportation and Oshkosh Auxiliary Officers.
The Convoy ended at the Experimental Aircraft Association grounds in Oshkosh, where lunch was served and participants were recognized at a celebration party. Convoy Media Marshal, Caitlin Morrall emceed the event and awards were presented to law enforcement and athlete’s favorite trucks, lead-truck bidders, top-fundraisers, and Convoy partners.
Special Olympics Wisconsin would like to thank all event partners, including presenting partner Quad/Graphics, founding partners Waupun Truck-N-Show and the Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association, participants, and state committee members who help make this event such a success.
Please join us next year for the 2012 World’s Largest Truck Convoy® on Saturday, September 15, 2012.