I thoroughly enjoy attending charity events within the trucking industry that are truck shows geared to benefit foundations, organizations or families within the community. I found out about the South Carolina Special Olympics Convoy event from my friend Rusty Moss of M.A.G. Enterprises during the 2019 Shine in the Pines Truck Show in Dublin, GA in March of last year. Rusty talked of the over 150 trucks that participated in the 2018 event and had hopes, along with fellow event coordinator Timothy Cooley, to grow this event every year. The 2019 charity convoy took place on Saturday, October 5th, and had a great turnout and raised a lot of money.
Columbia, SC is known for many things which some or most of you may never have known, including being the first United States city to be named after Christopher Columbus. Having been founded in 1786, the existence of old buildings from the 18th and 19th century is not evident due to two-thirds of the city being burned to the ground during the Civil War in 1865. But this city is now home to the South Carolina State Farmers Market, a property of the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, and is also the location of the South Carolina Truck Convoy for Special Olympics. Heads turned when the big rides started rolling into town to participate in this awesome display of kindness for Special Olympics.
Mike Still (who was employed with the State Transport Police at the time) was a formidable part of starting the South Carolina Special Olympics Convoy back in 2008, but due to low participation and a hurricane, the event came to an end in 2011. Fast forward to 2013, when Timothy Cooley (a member of the SC Trucking Association’s Road Team) and Mike got together to discuss bringing the convoy back to life. For the first few years, when it was small, the event was held at the headquarters of the South Carolina Department of Transportation in Blythwood, SC.
When they restarted the event in 2013, they only had 24 participants. But, through word of mouth from friends and attendees, that number grew to 176 participants in 2018 and about 200 participants in 2019! Mike has since retired from the State Transport Police and is now the operations manager at SEFA Transportation. In 2016, the convoy outgrew the SCDT headquarters and was moved to the Farmers Market in Columbia. Rusty Moss and Steve Carter have been a part of the committee since the beginning of the convoy’s rebirth, and each year more individuals join the committee to help make the event what it is today and aid in its continued growth.
The 2019 convoy took place on Saturday, October 5th, and with the expected growth of participants, many extra hours were invested by all the volunteers with the preliminary planning. I arrived in town on Thursday, October 3rd, to have the opportunity to see where the convoy route was planned and find the best locations to take my photos. Chris Fiffie of Big Rig Videos also made an appearance to document this event and showcase all the amazing trucks in attendance.
If you have never attended a Special Olympics Convoy, you need to make sure you do, as events like this bring a huge sense of pride within the industry we are all a part of and help highlight the huge hearts of those we are associated with. Everything within this event is done by volunteers, with everyone contributing to make sure the event goes as smoothly as possible, including a combination of some 35 State Transport Police, Highway Patrol and members of the Lexington County Sheriff’s Office.
Trucks were arriving and being parked already on Friday, and Saturday brought in the remaining trucks. The convoy departed the grounds around 10:30 AM to make the 36-mile route. After the convoy, a free lunch was served compliments mostly of M.A.G. Enterprises and J&S Carter. Rusty Moss takes care of getting the items to cook, and has become so skilled in watching the costs, that he has it down to only about $3.50 per person. Keith Manning and some of Rusty’s other close friends took care of the meal preparation. It was noted that the 2019 event fed over 600 people!
Following lunch, to round out the event, there was an awards ceremony and auction. The event hands out fun awards such as Lead Truck (whoever raises the most money gets the front spot in the convoy), Last Truck (the runner-up to raising the most money), Youngest Driver, Oldest Driver, Team Award, Spirit Award, Long Haul Award (who traveled the furthest to be there),Newcomer Award, Athlete’s Choice, Trucker’s Choice and Officer’s Choice. By the time the ceremony ended, some participants had left the grounds, while others took advantage of gathering to talk and catch up with one another. This year’s event raised an astounding amount for Special Olympics – over $47,000 – which is so incredible!
Special thanks from the event coordinators to the sponsors: M.A.G. Enterprises, Acme Logistics, Pinnacle, Eastman Marine Construction, J&S Carter, Walmart, Golf Cart Service, N.W. White & Company, Revelation Towing, Osteen Construction, Swafford Transport Warehouse, Love’s, DTP Chrome Shop, Marlowe Grading, JBR Environmental Services, Jonathan Mills Trucking, Team McConnell, Southern Classic, Thermo King Columbia, Elite Towing, Carolina International Trucks, RoadPro, Ironhorse Farm, Southeastern Freight Lines, SEFA Transportation, B106.7, Liquidbox, Miller Express, First Class Services, Cadle Trucking, Smart Business Credit, Mid-Eastern, ATHS, Provident Commercial Finance, CWS Insurance, Blanchard Caterpillar, Pepsi, South Carolina Department of Agriculture, ATCA, Raymond Carolina Handling and Ebenezer Baptist Church for helping to make the 2019 charity event such a success. Also, thank you to all the participants and volunteers, because without all of them, the convoy wouldn’t see continued growth.
I appreciated the opportunity to attend the 2019 Convoy in Columbia, photograph this awesome event, see friends (old and new) and witness a grand display to benefit the Special Olympics. This is one of those events where truckers, law enforcement and the community come together to raise money for a great cause. Keep an eye on the SC World’s Largest Truck Convoy for Special Olympics Facebook page for details of their 2020 event, which will be held on September 26th. As always, to all the drivers out there doing the deal, truck safe.