Convoy for a Cause rides into the Fonda Fairgrounds

Area residents watch the Convoy for a Cause on Route 5 in Fonda just outside of the Fonda Fairgrounds on Sunday. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

FONDA — Route 5 from Amsterdam to Fonda was lined with trucks as far as the eye could see on Sunday, but the cause was not traffic, rather it was charity.

The fifth annual Convoy for a Cause kicked off around 10 a.m. on Sunday heading from Beech-Nut on Route 5s to the Fonda Fairgrounds via Route 5 with a team of semi-trucks, fire trucks, ambulances and more.

Area residents dotted the convoy route for the streaming procession of vehicles that could be heard honking their horns exuberantly well before they came into sight.

Proceeds and donations collected during this year’s Convoy for a Cause will be presented to the 810 WGY Christmas Wish Program and the Leather Stocking Honor Flight. Each vehicle participating in the convoy was asked to contribute a $50 registration fee and one new unwrapped toy for Capital Region Toys for Tots.

“It’s a terrific fundraiser for the charities,” Montgomery County Emergency Services Deputy Director Rick Sager said as he stood along the side of Route 5s on Sunday while vehicles lined up for the convoy.

Area residents watch vehicles participating in the Convoy for a Cause make a lap around the track after arriving at the Fonda Fair on Sunday. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

Sager said his department has participated in the convoy since its inception and noted that almost all of the emergency services from Montgomery County and many from Fulton County would be taking part in the convoy.

“This is a fun time for the guys that are in emergency services,” Sager said. “Especially when you see little kids out watching us, smiling and waving.”

Sager described Convoy for a Cause as a time for emergency personnel to mingle in a casual, carefree atmosphere, differing from typical interactions in the field.

“We normally see each other in some sort of a disaster or fire where we’re busy trying to do some kind of work, and this is an opportunity to kind of get together under more social circumstances,” Sager said. “It’s a pretty neat experience.”

State Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara shared Sager’s sentiments while chatting with area first responders before riding in the convoy for his first time.

From left; Junior Miss Fonda Fair Jaiden Farrington, Miss Fulton County Princess Bella Mia Romano, Miss Fonda Fair Princess Chloe Lyons, Junior Miss Fonda Fair Princess Sydney Arminio and Miss Montgomery County Princess Olivia Greco pose for a photo at the Fonda Fair track after riding in the Convoy for a Cause. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

“We’re not in an emergency right now, but should an emergency arise, these vehicles are equipped to respond. They’re there day and night, even today. There are members of the departments here today, but they are standing by to do what they do best, which is to protect our communities,” Santabarbara said. “It’s always exciting to be in an emergency response vehicle, but also to recognize their service and what they do each and every day.”

In addition to showing support for emergency personnel and the charities benefiting from the convoy, Santabarbara said being able to contribute to the Leather Stocking Honor Flight was especially significant due in part to his own experience serving in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1990 to 1998 and taking part in an honor flight last year.

“I can see how important it is to support veterans in this and a number of ways, but to have them go on this flight and be a part of that, to know that locally we’re doing something to support that program is meaningful to me,” Santabarbara said. “I’m happy to be a part of it here today, to be in the lead car for the convoy today and support the programs that it’s raising money for.”

Santabarbara was joined by Miss Fulton County Princess Bella Mia Romano and other pageant winners from Montgomery and Fulton counties in the lead car. After arriving at the fairground, the group welcomed riders as they took a lap around the track to conclude the convoy.

While Romano has ridden in a number of parades, she said she particularly enjoyed taking part in Convoy for a Cause.

State Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara stands with Pam VanAlstine and Vanessa Wilson, members of the Florida Volunteer Fire Department , as well as Ryli, Raighen and Makenzie Wilson while vehicles line up the Convoy for a Cause on Route 5s on Sunday. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

“It feels amazing to do something helpful for everyone,” Romano said.

Area residents watch the Convoy for a Cause on Route 5 in Fonda just outside of th Fonda Fairgrounds on Sunday. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

Residents watch the Convoy for a Cause just outside of th Fonda Fairgrounds on Sunday. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)