Law Enforcement and Truckers across the U.S. and Canada joined forces in support of Special Olympics for the World’s Largest Truck Convoy (WLTC) on September 17.  22 stretches of highway in the U.S. and 3 in Canada were lined with trucks as they convoyed to celebrate their support of Special Olympics athletes and the dignity revolution.

As demonstrated through the WLTC, the power of the Special Olympics movement and the athletes is strong and penetrates communities, organizations, and industries.  This fundraising and awareness event, WLTC, is a signature event of the Law Enforcement Torch Run which forges a unique partnership between law enforcement and truckers.

This year, WLTC raised over $550,000 for local Special Olympics programs!

Special Olympics Kansas, shares a story of the impact of the WLTC:

Over the years, George and Val have become more than neighbors, but good friends.  On the weekends, they would catch some channel cat at the local fishing hole.  During a hot summer afternoon, George would walk next door and ask Val if he wanted to go down to the local gas station for a cold soda.  If George had a short trucking job, Val would ride shotgun and keep him company.  To Val, George provided an opportunity to see their community away from his day center for people with intellectual disabilities in Hill City, KS.  So four years ago when George saw a brochure advertising the World’s Largest Truck Convoy for Special Olympics Kansas, he knew he and Val would participate.

Over the past years, George has become more and more involved in the Truck Convoy.  Two years ago, George volunteered to serve on the planning committee.  In 2011, when we were looking for more ways to spread our message to each of the smaller communities in northwest Kansas, he organized a Torch Run through each town along the way from Hays (home of our Special Olympics Kansas State Basketball and Cheerleading Competitions) to Colby (home of our Truck Convoy ending rally).  The most important stop along the way was in Hill City, where Val was able to see the “Flame of Hope” being carried by local law enforcement officers for the first time.

Using that flame as a spark, George is now organizing a Special Olympics Local Program in Hill City.  His goal is to have a team of Special Olympics athletes compete at the 2011 Northwest Kansas Regional Bowling Tournament in Colby on October 8.  This is no small task, but as George says, “{He}will move a mountain for Val”.  George is literally taking people with intellectual disabilities from the sidelines to the playing field.  On behalf of Special Olympics Kansas, thank you George!

Chuck Karnitz, an employee at Duplainville Transport-Quad/Graphics reflects on his experience with the WLTC over the past few years:

It’s such a great event working with law enforcement to benefit Special Olympics athletes.  The officers are one of us.  As an officer once said to me, “We all put our pants on the same way and I drive my police car and you drive your big truck.”  Seeing the law enforcement blocking off the on-ramps to keep everything moving along safely is so important and we couldn’t do it without them.  The Convoy gives law enforcement and truck drivers the opportunity to work hand-in-hand together for these very special athletes.

When I saw all the Special Olympics athletes at the end of the Convoy it brought a tear to my eye, knowing how happy they are and how special they feel.  No matter how old or young you are, these athletes will touch your heart and YOU can help make their day so special.

We need more drivers and companies to get involved…whether it’s driving in the Convoy or sponsoring the event.  There are Convoys held across the country and in Canada, so no matter where you are, YOU can make a difference!  Once you see the look on the athletes’ faces and all their signs, you will be hooked!  Come join us on Saturday, September 15, 2012!!!

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