Joy Eggers has been around trucks for 31 years since marrying her husband Sid, a recently retired truck driver. Nine years ago, Sid’s boss shared a flyer about Franklin County’s Truck Convoy. Sid rode his truck with a Make-A-Wish banner on the front during the event to help raise awareness and money for the local Make-A-Wish chapter.
“I always donated my four hours to the kids, which was a pleasure to do on a Saturday,” he said. “To see all those people waving and screaming…it’s amazing and it hits your heart really hard.”
Having ten grandkids of their own, the couple felt drawn to Make-A-Wish and the event. After leaving Pennsylvania and moving to the central Illinois town of Mattoon in 2017, they found out that there had never been a truck convoy for Make-A-Wish in Illinois; no one even knew about it.
“We were shocked to find out that there has never been a truck convoy in the whole state of Illinois for Make-A-Wish, and nobody was advocating and fundraising in Coles County,” Joy Eggers said. “That just stunned me.”
Joy and Sid immediately contacted Make-A-Wish Illinois about the opportunity. Planning started in last September and continued until the event on June 29, 2019. They got a date, venue, insurance for the fair grounds and committed to raising $5,000. Sid and Joy entered local parades to help advertise the event and soon people started to know who they were and that the inaugural Coles County Truck Convoy would be happening.
“We never really fundraise. We gave to the church and here and there…but I’m telling you once you see these kids and you’re there firsthand…it’s just amazing for those kids,” Joy continued to say. “I worked on it literally every day, but I enjoyed it.”
The couple had already raised $12,000 before the event even started.
“The comradery was just fantastic,” Joy said.
Truckers Converge for Successful Fundraiser
123 trucks participated in a 25 mile convoy from the Charleston fairgrounds to Mattoon and back. Around 1,300 people came out to the fair grounds and 60 volunteers, including two Make-A-Wish alumni, donated their time. Kids enjoyed activities that included seeing air ambulance helicopters, bulldozers, ambulances, fire trucks and stock race cars.
Six wish children were at the event and introduced on stage, which continues to be the most memorable part for Sid.
“To give them a wish where they don’t have to worry about their appointments or the hospital, it makes me real happy,” Sid said. “And that’s what I get out of it. It makes me so happy.”
For Joy, she recalls the first ever Make-A-Wish child she met at a Relay for Life event. He was 16 and told Joy that he would love to ride in one of the trucks. The child passed away before he was able to. His mother spoke at the convoy about her son and how much the event would have meant to him.
“We didn’t try to jerk people’s hearts, but you can’t help but to be moved by it,” Joy said.
The event concluded with a total of $30,000 raised. Sid and Joy could not believe it.
“I had to stop a minute…people keep saying to me that I should be so proud…I tell them to let me replace the word proud with grateful,” Joy said. “We never dreamed that we would make $30,000 for you guys.”
To read more about the first annual Coles County Truck Convoy, see the Journal Gazette & Times-Courier coverage here.
The second annual Coles County Truck Convoy already has 30 trucks registered and will take place on June 27, 2020. For more information, visit the Coles County Truck Convoy Facebook page click here.