Nearly 600 in Make-A-Wish Truck Convoy
Lancaster’s Make-A-Wish 595-truck convoy blared Sunday’s message of hope. Its audience parked on the shoulders of U.S. Route 222 and on overpasses, waving to drivers who responded with long belches from their truck horns.
“We grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.” Make-A-Wish mission statement.
Although the Lancaster event is in a different Make-A-Wish region than York, Yorkers were scattered throughout the parking lot, including Airville’s Kyle Miller, who was rewarded for his 2016 fund raising with a #16 spot in the convoy. KBS Trucking brought a few vehicles, A&S Kinard brought five of their company’s 600 trucks, Fawn Grove’s volunteer Fire Department showed off one of its vehicles. KBS also participated in the smaller York region’s convoy in Gettysburg.
Make-A-Wish regional director for the Susquehanna Valley district Ben Lee watched as rain clouds disappeared in mid-morning, and the crowds at the Burle Business Center ballooned when the blue sky appeared.
“We’re sympathetic to the six townships, police departments and PennDot,” he says, talking about the 26-mile loop of big trucks that sometimes clog Sunday traffic. His group doesn’t advertise for more convoy trucks, he explains. But they keep coming.
Last year, the Make-A-Wish convoy raised more than $400,000, which paid for wishes throughout the region, which includes Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry, Cumberland and Dauphin Counties. And when each child’s wish averages about $7,500, that amounts to more than 50 wishes. Seventy-five percent of wishes involve travel. Wishes are totally free to the families, no hidden costs. Period.
For those who want to know where their donations go, the national Make-A-Wish foundation received a strong rating from the Charity Navigator website. Locally, Lancaster showed nearly 87 cents of every dollar goes directly to its wish granting programs, beating the national numbers, which showed 74 cents.
Lee explained the group did not partner with the Guinness Book of World Records this year, because of the myriad of bookkeeping details (what qualifies, what doesn’t in weight, length, etc.) Some of the vehicles in the convoy wouldn’t qualify as trucks– ambulances, race cars with seats on its upper deck, the Hershey Kissmobile, etc. Last year, the group set a new record for longest truck convoy with an unbroken chain of 26 miles. As the last of the 626 trucks was leaving the parking lot, the first truck was returning.
The total funds raised this year won’t be known until late this month.