Make-A-Wish 05122019

Trucker Matthew Moyer, of Lebanon, took part in the 30th annual Make-a-Wish Truck Convoy on Sunday, May 12, 2019, in Lancaster County along with his daughter Ruby, wife Tia, and son Zachary. Zachary, who has a genetic disorder and autism, got a special wheelchair through Make-A-Wish so his father said participating in the event and raising money for the foundation is a way to give thanks.

Matthew and Tia Moyer of Lebanon know both sides of the Make-A-Wish foundation.

Their son, Zachary, 14, was born with a genetic disorder, is diagnosed with autism and has a couple other challenges, his parents said.

He uses a wheelchair.

Seven years ago, he wanted a beach wheelchair – a special wheelchair outfitted with large tires so it can navigate sand and uneven terrain – so he could have greater accessibility.

He got the chair through Make-A-Wish, which grants the wishes of critically ill children.

"We use it an awful lot. (Zachary) loves the water. Loves riding in water. Loves the trucks and he loves all the noise we make," Matthew Moyer said.

"We" being the hundreds of truckers who took part Sunday in the foundation's 30th annual Mother’s Day truck convoy.

You see, Matthew Moyer, 37, also happens to be a trucker.

So when Zachary got his wheelchair, Matthew Moyer saw taking part in the convoy a natural way to show thanks.

"It's great to be able to give back in our own little way to help other kids to be able to have what Zachary had," Matthew Moyer said.

This year, Matthew Moyer raised $8,160, and over his seven years, he's raised close to $35,000.

It's also a family affair for the Moyers.

Joining Matthew in the cab of his 1995 International Cabover besides Zachary were Tia and his daughter, Ruby, 9, who excitedly declared Sunday was also her mom's birthday.

"It's a triple threat," Tia joked, referring to her birthday falling on Mother's Day and the convoy.

Jokes aside, it's a special day, she said.

"I don't look at it from the Mother's Day perspective, but just the whole unity perspective; just the way the community comes together and supports everyone and the way they reach out to the kids and support the kids is phenomenal," she said.

Bob Gray, a trucker from Medford, New Jersey, was taking part in his fourth convoy. In 2016, a friend asked him if he wanted to take part in a Guinness World Record attempt for the largest truck convoy.

He was in for that, but also looked up the cause. And he was hooked.

"It's a great organization," he said, noting that years ago, the foundation helped his cousin's child who had cancer.

Gray's white 2019 Mack Anthem bears the name of his "wish kid," Isaiah, on the passenger door.

The numbers

Truckers pay a minimum of $100 to take part in the convoy, but most contribute about $500, said Ben Lee, the regional director for Make-a-Wish in Philadelphia, Delaware and the Susquehanna Valley

And then there's the fuel costs to get to the event. One trucker from Michigan figured his fuel costs this year were $1,500, Lee said.

All told, the convoy has raised more than $7 million in its 30 years. That's not counting this year's $550,000 goal.

The final tally won't come in until June because truckers have a month to collect and report, Lee said, but he was optimistic the goal would be reached.

Even knowing for days that Sunday's forecast was calling for rain, trucker turnout was strong. Lee estimated it was in the high 500s.

And for the 30th year, families of Make-A-Wish children who've died were able to ride along in a bus provided by Executive Coach.

At 1:30 p.m., amid the chug of diesel engines and a cacophony of air horns, the truckers and roughly 125 Make-A-Wish kids began making their way from Burle to Route 30 and 222 to make the 26-mile round trip to Ephrata.

"This event is only getting louder, stronger and sweeter," Lee said.