This is a story of a boy, known as Bubba, who was given one of the best birthday presents ever – a full-on truck show in his honor! This story not only touched my heart, but it touched the hearts of people all around the world. From the locals in Wisconsin to folks in Australia, England and Canada – from North to South, and East to West – this thing went worldwide, thanks to the internet and social media.
Let me take you to the beginning, back before all this started. The Cadd family, who live in Wisconsin, became not only parents to their own four children, but to many others that they fostered (82+) and adopted (10). Early in May of 2003, the Cadd’s received a phone call that there was a little boy who was in bad health and he needed a foster home. Rick and Peggy didn’t hesitate and went to the hospital where they met this little nine-month-old boy named Dakota. Peggy stayed with Dakota, trying to get him to eat, so he would be healthy enough for them to take him home. Being two years old and having a little trouble getting Dakota to eat, Peggy started calling him Bubba, which helped.
Over time, Bubba started showing signs that he had a love for big trucks, and as he grew older, he began sitting in his yard, along Highway 26, in his wheelchair, waiting for trucks to go by so he could wave and give them the arm pump. This is where the story starts. One day (July 14), a driver for C.H. Hall Trucking out of Stillman Valley, IL, who would see Bubba often, got a hat and shirt and toy truck from his boss (Chris Hall), to stop and give to the boy. This driver, Mark King, having a soft spot for kids with disabilities after having grown up with a sister who was disabled herself, stopped and left the gift.
Bubba wasn’t out that day, so Mark just tossed it over the fence close to where Bubba would sit. Once the bag was found, Peggy (Dakota’s mom) told Bubba that it was a gift from a trucker, and all Bubba could say was, “Wow! Wow!!” Peggy then took to social media with a post asking if anyone knew this company and, if so, to tell whomever did this they were awesome. Well, a Wisconsin driver named Jeremy Kaschub saw her post and, as an admin of a Facebook group called The Drive, he shared Peggy’s post on their page, adding, “Hey, let’s do something for this boy!” And from there, it just took off.
After several comments and shares to other pages, the post went viral (at last check there were 3,300 reactions, 804 comments and 1,500 shares). Suggesting that maybe they have a cookout and a few trucks, another local member of the Facebook group contacted Peggy and started making calls to see what the truckers could do for Bubba’s upcoming birthday. Within a month’s time, the plans for a big celebration were well underway, and a Facebook page called “18 Wheels for Bubba” was created.
Items were being sent to Bubba from everywhere, while secret plans for his surprise birthday party/truck show were being made. As local businesses began donating items for the party, The Triple D (Dairyland Diesel Drivers) guys came in full swing to help, as well. Peggy was kept in the loop, but everything would be a surprise to Bubba. Peggy had no idea what to expect on Saturday, August 18th – no one did.
Once the day arrived, everyone worked hard to get ready for this special day, for a very special boy. At a park near the Cadd’s home, trucks were getting parked, a DJ was setting up, along with a bounce house, and food vendors. When it was finally time for the Cadd family to arrive in their limo bus, the crowd stood close and cheered, while in the background, you could hear the song Teddy Bear being played. When the birthday boy got out of that bus, wearing a huge grin, the hugs and greetings began.
During the event, there was live music, and then one of the biggest surprises of all. Set up by Jeremy Kaschub, the Make-A-Wish Foundation came on stage to present Bubba and the Cadd family a wish. Although we’re not sure what the wish was, rumor has it Disney World could be in their plans. OOIDA presented Bubba with a honorary membership, then BCP Trucking, who haul the Wisconsin Badgers, gave Rick and Peggy tickets to the football game of their choice.
So, on this special day for Bubba, 182 trucks showed up, along with thousands of people, to give this one boy a special birthday. The turnout was so big, both local and national news outlets covered the event, and several magazines and websites ran stories, as well. With a fun-filled day of strangers becoming friends, sharing stories and showing Bubba so many different trucks, Bubba even got to get in the BJ & the Bear truck and blow the horn!
As the day went on, there was just too much happening, so Bubba’s gift opening was put off until the next day at the Cadd house. A few of us went for breakfast and to be a part of Dakota’s official gift opening, and we couldn’t have been more welcomed into their home – it was as if we had known each other for years, not days.
While no birthday is “finished” until you open all the gifts, Bubba is still celebrating, as the gifts just keep coming. I feel blessed to have been a small part of it all. This is a true-life Teddy Bear story, and it could not have any better of an ending. Thank you to everyone who helped make this such an amazing day, and to those who sent gifts to Dakota. Happy birthday, Bubba – we all hope you had fun.