Convoy’s ‘circle of compassion’ grows larger each year

By on May 17, 2017

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

C’Nessa Rucano, 16, wasn’t sure she was up for a ride in Sunday’s Make-A-Wish Mother’s Day truck convoy.

C’Nessa has Dravet’s syndrome, a type of epilepsy that can lead to seizures. Sunday’s sunny skies and warmer temperatures also added to her irritation, said her mother, Annie Robinson, of Mountville.

But C’Nessa’s brother and sisters, Marcus, 23, Victoria, 21, and Shyla, 6, were there to comfort her as she prepared to ride in Bareville Fire Company Truck 31 with driver Randy Smith.

Smith, of Leola, has been a member of the fire company for roughly nine years. He takes part in the annual event for a single reason: “to make kids smile,” he said.

Sunday marked the 28th annual Make-A-Wish Mother’s Day Truck Convoy. It was begun by local construction company owner J.C. Hale, who brought Make-A-Wish to Lancaster. This year’s event was dedicated to Hale, who died April 17 at the age of 69.

Forty-four trucks took part in that initial convoy in 1990. On Sunday, 595 rigs of all shapes and sizes drove off as C.W. McCall’s 1975 hit song “Convoy” blared from loudspeakers.

Ben Lee, regional director for the Make-A-Wish Philadelphia, Northern Delaware and Susquehanna Valley Chapter, said the goal is to raise $450,000 to help make the dreams of children with life-threatening illnesses come true.

That amount, said Lori-Beth Kryzanowski, development director for the chapter, would make wishes come true for about 45 children. While the majority of the wishes are for a week’s stay at Disneyworld, she said others include trips to Hawaii, room makeovers for children with special needs, and shopping trips.

This year, 125 children signed up to ride in trucks — an increase over 2016. And since the last convoy, five of the chapter’s Make-A-Wish children have died.

Supporters testify

Pete Trimble, of Newville, who transported a Wish kid last year in the giant Peterbilt wrecker he drives for John’s Towing of Carlisle, said that day made an impact on him.

“It was very humbling,” Trimble said. “It makes you think about your life and what you take for granted.”

Trimble and three other drivers were part of a four-truck contingent of John’s Towing and HJ Towing owned by Jake and Heidi Jo Richcreek, of Carlisle.

“We do anything for kids,” she explained. “Make-A-Wish is very important because we’ve had some friends that had children in Make-A-Wish.”

Mary Price, 23, Quarryville, seconded that emotion. Price and her mother, Phyllis Mendenhall, of Georgetown, have been registering drivers for the past nine years.

“You do it because you think you’re giving back, but you get so much more from it,” Price said.

For Erica Critzer, 31, Manheim, and her son, Matthew, 6, the convoy is a must-see. Critzer has attended the event since she was a child and has carried on the tradition with her son.

“It’s for a good cause,” she said. “We like to support the kids.”

This was driver Wendell Martin’s first Make-A-Wish convoy. The 25-year-old Denver resident was one of 145 drivers who signed up Sunday. Asked what he expected, he said he was looking forward to “a nice relaxing cruise.”

Mothers recognized

As part of the Mother’s Day festivities, three mothers who had been nominated as Mother of the Year — Melissa Roslevege, Karen Sauder and Amanda Flory — were recognized by the individuals who nominated them.

Roses were handed out to all mothers in attendance, as were other gifts.

At 1:30 sharp, the convoy began to roll. As the top fundraiser, Brandon Getz, of Manheim, had the honor of leading the way.

Getz, who drives for Snavely’s Mill in Lititz, raised $19,124. To mark the occasion, owner Doug Snavely had the trailer painted in a Make-A-Wish design.

Lee said a final dollar figure for the event will not be known for several days. Last year, the event raised $408,000.

Earle Cornelius is a staff writer at LNP.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *