FONDA - A convoy will head to the Fonda Fair on a mission: to help children with serious illnesses.
On Sunday around 11 a.m., more than 150 semi trucks, firetrucks and other emergency vehicles will head from the Beech-Nut Nutrition company site in the town of Florida, make their way to Route 5 and Riverside Drive in Fultonville, and then go into the fairgrounds. There, semis will participate in a variety of events.
The purpose of the convoy is to raise money for the Children's Miracle Network and the Children's Hospital at Albany Medical Center, which provides care for children in a 25-county region throughout upstate New York and western Massachusetts.
Each truck driver will pay $55 to enter the convoy. After they arrive at the fairgrounds, the drivers will pay fees to participate in fair events, including the NTPA National Tractor Pullers Association's Grand National Super Semis, a truck beauty contest and a street-legal big-rig pull.
The event's main organizer, Charles Claburn, president of the Convoy for the Kids, said he's hoping the event raises at least $50,000 for the children's hospital.
Claburn said children with illnesses will be riding in the convoy, including Wes Pak, a 6-year-old from Virginia who has cancer. In his honor, truckers will tie gold ribbons on all the trucks to "make a sea of gold," Claburn said.
Claburn said trucks will be coming from all over the state.
At the fairgrounds, people not only will get a chance to watch the trucks participate in the events, they also will have an opportunity to meet the truckers and drivers at no charge.
"Kids can sit in the trucks and get their pictures taken," Claburn said. "Our guys ... their hearts are bigger than their rigs."
Claburn, a former local resident who now lives in Hudson Falls, is a truck driver for Blackhawk Transport of Wisconsin.
He said he started Convoy for the Kids in 2007 after seeing the strength in children who suffer from cancer and other serious illnesses.
"These children are warriors," he said. "These kids are battling the same cancers adults are facing."
He organizes convoys in other parts of New York and in other states every year. He gets the word out through a network of drivers and through the media and Facebook.
After expenses, all of the money raised goes toward the children's hospitals, he said.
"We start this event every year with zero dollars in the bank," he said.
The Children's Miracle Network is an alliance of children's hospitals. There are 170 children's hospitals across the United States and Canada that are affiliated with the Children's Miracle Network.
Every year, these hospitals treat 17 million children for various diseases, according to the Children's Miracle Network.