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World’s Largest Truck Convoy held for Special Olympic athletes

Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 10:29 PM CDT
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - The more than usual semi trucks were at the Bosselman Travel Center for the World’s Largest Truck Convoy Friday. The annual event is held to raise money and awareness for the Special Olympics.

Athletes and their families gathered out in the parking lot near a fleet of semis to enjoy yard games, have a cook out, look at the trucks, as well as interact with the drivers and law enforcement officers.

The truck drivers pay a cover fee for entry into the event, which goes toward covering travel expenses for members of the Nebraska Special Olympics.

Typically, the athletes have the chance to take a 28-mile ride inside of a semi while they conveyed down Highway 281, but that portion of the event had to be called off due to concerns of COVID-19.

Cindy Hemberger, a Special Olympics athlete, had been coming back since she started competing in the sports in 2010. She said the atmosphere at the event is what kept her coming back.

“The drivers, they’re just so special to be around, easy to talk to and they love to joke around and play games with us, and its nice to be with us. They take the time out of their families and their schedule to be with us and that’s so awesome.”

Larry Derr, a truck driver for Werner Enterprises, was returning to participate for his 14th year Friday. He thought back to times he’s had during past year when they were able to make the convoy with the athlete.

“Hopefully next year we’ll be back to where we can actually do the drive, you know, that’s the funnest part,” Derr said. “Letting them ride inside the trucks with us and just seeing them enjoy themselves, blow the air horn, talk on the radios.”

Derr continued, the biggest thrill he got out of the events was seeing the smiles on the athletes’ faces.

Though the convoy was called off, there were still plenty of festivities for everyone, like a bag game, tours of the trucks and law enforcement vehicles and more.

Derr said he noticed a few things change over the years.

“There’s several athletes that I’ve seen that were three, four years old the first year that I’ve done it and now they’re almost adults and I also follow them along on the news when they compete,” He said. “It just adds a little something special to it knowing that we’ve been out here raising money for them so they can compete.”

A few years ago, nearly $45,000 was raised through the event. Friday evening, participants were offered chili hot dogs. All food from the event was donated by sponsors, Bosselman and Diamond Truck Wash.

Saturday the Law Enforcement Torch run was to be held around the Bosselman Travel Center. Hemberger said she was able to hold the torch during the run.

Following the early morning event, a cookout was planned and the remainder of the awards were handed out to participants in the 2021 event.

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