Connellsville trucking company organizes 'Make-A-Wish Convoy'
During this season of giving, a local trucking company is asking members of the trucking community to remember children with special needs who have wishes.
Pleasant Trucking of Connellsville is asking area trucking companies, truck drivers and trucking company vendors to become involved in the Make-A-Wish Convoy. Company co-owner Marcie Morrow-Christoff said Pleasant Trucking participated in the event for the first time this past September.
“This year we only had one truck, but next year we are hoping to have many more,” Morrow-Christoff said. “We are putting the information about how to get involved in our Christmas cards we send out to other trucking companies and our vendors hoping they will get involved in the program.”
Morrow-Christoff, her mother Nancy Morrow and brother John Morrow, who are also co-owners in the company, got involved in the program at the request of one of their drivers. Joshua A. Keene of Indiana, Pa. is the father of a Make-A-Wish child. Four years ago when little Eric Keene was born, he spent the first two weeks of his life fighting to survive in Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. The young boy was diagnosed with Global Development Delay, a term used to describe an overall delay in two or more areas of a child's development.
“He has been in and out of the hospital ever since,” Keene said.
Make-A-Wish of Greater Pennsylvania and Southern West Virginia granted young Eric's wish to go to Disney World.
“They gave our son a week away from being in the hospital and a step toward having part of a normal child's life,” he said.
Keene learned about the convoy held at Leighty's Flea Market in Newry, near Bedford, which benefited the local Make-A-Wish organization. He asked Pleasant Trucking to sponsor him in the special convoy.
“I wanted to help the other children who have special needs like he (Eric) does,” Keene said.
The events have two parts to them. First, it is a fundraiser for the organization. Truckers or trucking companies pay a registration fee, then many also spend the year prior to the event raising pledge money. The driver who raises the most money gets the honor of leading the convoy the following year.
“We also invite our Make-A-Wish children. Most of them have already had their wishes granted, so this is a fun day for them,” regional manager Ann Waltman said. “Kids and their families get to ride in the trucks during the convoy and then the rest of the day is like a festival atmosphere. Bottom line, it's for the kids to have fun.”
Morrow-Christoff said the company likes to do something each year, and when they heard about the convoy and how it benefited the children, they decided to get involved.
“It's such a wonderful event that we didn't know existed. It's a very good cause, and how often do you get to grant a kid's wish,” she said.
The event raised more than $10,000 for the organization, which grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions.
“Pleasant Trucking stepped up to be one of our bigger sponsors this year and they have told us they would like to do even more for us next year,” Waltman said.
Eric Keene, 4, who lives with his mother Jennifer Keene in Altoona, was unable to attend the event due to health concerns. Instead, his brother Joshua R. Keene, 10, of Indiana accompanied their father to the event.
“In August of 2011, he (Eric) suffered cardiac arrest and has not been able to leave the house since,” Keene said.
The convoy is one of two held for the organization each year. The other event is held the first Sunday in May near Gettysburg, at Battlefield Harley Davidson. It will be held May 5, 2013. The convoy at Leighty's Flea Market will be held on Sept. 7, 2013.
For more information on how to refer a child to the organization, volunteer or participate in the convoy, call 1-800-676-9474 or visit www.wishgreaterpa.org.
Linda Harkcom is a freelance writer.