FONDA - On the Fonda Fair's second-to-last-day, a parade of semi-trucks, fire engines, ambulances and pick-ups filled the Fonda Speedway in a benefit event for children's hospitals.
Sunday's Convoy for Kids, a charity drive founded by Charles Claburn of Hudson Falls, had more than 120 drivers register and pay from $45 to $55 to take part in the event.
Driving from the Beechnut Factory in the town of Florida through Fultonville, the participants, led by Hank Pitcher, paraded through the speedway, belching smoke and blaring their horns to the large crowd of onlookers.
Rob Tylutki speaks with 6-year-old Wes Pak and his mom, Christa, on Sunday at the Fonda Speedway during the Convoy for Kids event. Wes is a survivor of neuroblastoma, a type of cancer that attacks the nervous system. (The Leader-Herald/Arthur Cleveland)
"It's enormous," Claburn said, smiling.
Pulling in around 11:30 a.m., the crowd clapped as the convoy was escorted by a Montgomery County Sheriff's Office patrol car as well as fire and ambulance services from all over Montgomery County. Walmart, Timco Transportation and Cargel Meats were some of the companies involved in the Convoy, with Walmart and Timco having multiple trucks pulling through.
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Claburn established the event six years ago in Hudson Falls to raise money for the Children's Miracle Network, which helps pay for children's hospitals. Claburn said he has two nephews who were born severely disabled.
"The hospital serves 50,000 families, so might as well put our money to use," Claburn said.
Wes Pak, a 6-year-old West Virginian who was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma, a common cancer in children that causes tumors to grow on the nervous system, rode in the Lady Butterfly rig. His mother, Christa, said Wes is much better now, and he only goes to doctors for checkups and maintenence care.
"It's great to see people come out and support the kids who don't always get the awareness they need," Christa Pak said.
Pitcher, of Ron Allen Trucking, who rode with his wife and daughter in his rig, has been involved in the event every year.
"If it generates a fire and gives some guys some ambition to get up off the couch and do something for children like this, it's always well worth it," Pitcher said.
Last year, the event, like many at the Fonda Fair, was hampered by the flooding caused by Tropical Storm Irene.
"People couldn't get here," Claburn said.
Pointing at the crowd growing in the stands, Claburn was enthusiastic about the event.
"Thats a start. Last year we had maybe five people in the stands," Claburn said.
Other events held at the Speedway on Sunday included a truck pull, where some members of the Convoy and other competitors attempted to see whose rig could pull the track's sled, "Humiliator 15," over 300 feet, and a truck beauty contest. Several teams of "super-semis" also were there to entertain the crowd.
"Those things pop wheelies. They are packing 3000 horsepower, whereas [normal semis] pack 450 to 600 horsepower," Claburn said.
Today, the last day of the fair, will have a parade at noon. Entry will be free to anyone at the gates before noon.
Arthur Cleveland can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.