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Connellsville truckers' convoy helps to make children's wishes come true

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From left are Bill Thompson, Eric Sherry and Delmar Housel, the three drivers who drove the wish kids in the convoy.

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Friday, Nov. 22, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

For some children, being a part of a tracker-trailer truck convoy is their greatest wish ever.

Employees and staff members of Pleasant Trucking in Connellsville went above and beyond to assure that those wishes came true.

Last year, Marcie Morrow-Christoff, part-owner of the trucking company, was asked if the company would be interested in helping to fund a wish for one employee's child.

“One of our employees approached my brother about it,” Morrow-Christoff said.

The wish is part of a statewide event called the Make-a-Wish Convoy and Car Cruise that takes place every September at Leighty's Farm Market in Newry. Children who wish to be a part of convoy are invited to ride along with the truckers.

After last year's initial participation, Morrow-Christoff said the company tackled the event head-on, raising money all yearlong to send this year.

“They took $6,000,” she said of the three drivers from the local company who volunteered to participate in this year's event.

“It was really an incredible experience,“ driver Eric Sherry said of the convoy and his participation in the event. “There were a total of 44 trucks that took part in it. We all drove in the right lane, and people would drive past us and wave or blow their horns in support, and the kids got to pull the air horns. It was really something, and it pulls at your heartstrings a little bit.”

Make-A-Wish program director Ann Waltman said 19 families were at the event, so not all of the trucks had a child or family aboard, but their participation and interest were a great asset to the organization.

“We were still glad to have lots of trucks to help us spread the message of Make-a-Wish,” Waltman said.

Proceeds from the convoy event will be used to fund other wishes for “wish kids.”

Last year the company decided to reach out to its customers to help raise money and asked them if they were interested in participating in the fundraising in messages that were included in the company's Christmas cards, Morrow-Christoff said.

The companies that donated then had their logos or names put on the company trucks.

“It was great advertisement for them,” Morrow-Christoff said. “It was like being a part of a big, mobile billboard.”

Pleasant Trucking part-owner John Morrow said he was pleased by the support received when they asked for donations and contributions.

“This is a really good cause, and I was surprised at some of the donations that were made,” Morrow said.

Part-owner Nancy Morrow said that although they were not familiar with the Make-a-Wish convoy program, they are thrilled to be a part of it.

“I didn't even realize that this event was even out there,” Morrow said. “Once word got around, we were getting calls from other drivers who want to be a part of it. I think it's a wonderful program.”

Since granting its first wish in 1980 to Chris Greicius, a 7-year-old boy from Arizona who was diagnosed with leukemia and dreamed of being a police officer, the Make-a-Wish organization has granted wishes to more than 250,000 children who suffer from life-threatening conditions.

The company has been active in raising money and plans to conduct different types of fundraisers, both internally and externally, to raise money for the fall 2014 convoy.

“Our goal this year is $10,000,” Morrow-Christoff said. “This year we can really get the word out to customers and vendors and even our employees. This event brings people together for a really good cause, and this is something that we plan to continue to support.”

Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer.

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