Every Mother’s Day, in Lancaster, Pa., there is a massive truck convoy to raise money for the local Make-A-Wish chapter. This year, it set the record for the longest convoy in history.
The annual Make-A-Wish Mother’s Day Convoy in Lancaster, Pa., raises money for Make-A-Wish of Philadelphia, Northern Delaware and Susquehanna Valley. This year, 590 trucks participated and many of them had special passengers in the cab.
Here’s a look at how truckers’ generosity has helped one family:
When Brayton Martin gets behind the wheel of a semi in the Mother’s Day Truck Convoy, anyone within earshot knows it. He lays on the horn. The longer and louder, the better.
“I mean, he honks the horn the entire time,” said Lisa Martin, Brayton's mother. “God bless the truck driver, he lets (Brayton) honk.”
Lisa had heard the horns before as a volunteer for the convoy in her hometown of Lancaster, Pa., but she never imagined that one day that her son would be a Make-A-Wish child, riding in the cab with a trucker.
Born in 2009, Brayton was diagnosed at two months old with a rare immunodeficiency called Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH). In his first year, he underwent a bone marrow transplant and months of chemotherapy as he battled the incurable condition and side effects.
The best care available was at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, which is where Brayton spent much of his first three years of life. His compromised immune system limited contact with everyone but family and medical personnel.
When he was four, his physicians said it would be safe for the family to take a trip. They chose Disney World and Make-A-Wish of Philadelphia, Northern Delaware and Susquehanna Valley, the beneficiary of the Mother’s Day Convoy, made it happen in December 2013.
It was Brayton’s first time out in a crowd, first time seeing the Disney characters he’d come to know through TV and DVDs, first time on vacation with his family.
“He embraced it, he loved it,” Lisa says. “He wasn’t overwhelmed at all. And Make-A-Wish made it possible for us to just relax and enjoy it. They took care of everything for us. It was almost like starting over as a family; this is the way we wanted to live.”
His strengthened immune system also meant Brayton could return home to Lancaster, where he got to ride in the Mother’s Day Convoy. In 2013 and 2014, he rode with Larry Witters, a driver for Crowe Transportation Services in Elizabethtown, Pa., and a convoy veteran.
Brayton dressed as a pirate the first year so Witters flew a Jolly Roger flag, which he later gave to the boy. On the second year, Witters added train horns and rigged a bungee cord so Brayton could sound them from the passenger’s seat.
“He wore his little arm out pulling on those train horns,” Witters says. “He and I had a great time. To me, that’s what this thing is about. It’s all about the little guys and how much they love the big trucks.”
Witters and Brayton keep in touch on Facebook and hope to reunite at the 2017 convoy.
HLH is incurable, but Brayton, now 7, is in remission and doing better than anyone thought he would. He’s in first grade and loves school. Monthly infusions, daily injections and medications, and regular medical appointments do not slow him down.
“He’s a very social kid,” Lisa says. “He likes people and adventures.”
The family now lives in North Carolina because the physician in charge of Brayton’s treatment relocated there, but they hope to be back in Lancaster in May for the convoy.
“Brayton is looking forward to it,” Lisa said. “He wants to blow the horn again and he’s become friends with the truckers.”
The RoadPro Family of Brands is the primary sponsor of the Mother’s Day Truck Convoy. To learn more about how to participate in or donate to the convoy, visit here.