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Trucks are driven north on Route 222 during the Make-A-Wish Mother's Day convoy on Sunday, May 12, 2019. They will take a new route in 2020.

THE ISSUE

The Make-A-Wish Foundation hopes to relocate its Mother’s Day convoy — which provides critically ill children with rides in tractor-trailer trucks — to northwestern Lancaster County next year. As staff writer Heather Stauffer wrote in this week’s Sunday LNP, “The proposed route would begin and end at the Manheim Auto Auction in Penn Township, taking the convoy of hundreds of trucks west on four-lane Route 283 toward Elizabethtown, then back through Mount Joy on Route 230. Leaders said they still need some approvals from municipalities and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, but things are going well so far.”

We know folks in Akron, Brownstown and Ephrata are disappointed that the Make-A-Wish convoy will be shifting to another route in May 2020. Watching the convoy make its joyful, thundering progress had become a Mother’s Day tradition for people along its previous route.

Their loss will be Mount Joy’s and Penn Township’s gain. And a gain, most importantly we hope, for the children who benefit from the work of Make-A-Wish.

The change in route became necessary when the nonprofit was informed that Burle Business Park on New Holland Avenue was no longer able to host the annual event. Make-A-Wish issued a call for a new host in June, and Manheim Auto Auction responded with an offer of its property off Route 72, south of Manheim.

Rod Finch, a Maytown resident who has been one of the event’s top fundraising drivers in recent years, told LNP that he and other members of the team working on the 2020 plans tried to find a route that included the Ephrata area, which had been so supportive of the event over the decades.

Unfortunately, that proved impossible.

As Stauffer reported, “The proposed new ‘truck-friendly’ route would take the back way out of the auction to Route 772/Mount Joy Road, Route 283 west and then Route 230 through Mount Joy.”

The loop would be about 24 miles, roughly the length of the former route. Finch expects it would take a driver about an hour and a half to complete it.

As in previous years, a morning carnival will be followed by the trucks’ departure at 1:30 p.m.

Drivers will be warned not to come through Manheim Borough, which has very narrow streets.

Mount Joy Borough Manager Samuel Sulkosky told LNP that borough council already approved a motion to participate in the event. “It’s a great charitable organization,” he said, noting that the convoy raises about $600,000 each year “and they do good things with the money.”

They do indeed. Since the first convoy in 1990, this event has raised more than $7 million.

As its name suggests, Make-A-Wish grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions such as cancer. The fulfillment of their wishes — whether it’s to be a pilot or princess for a day, for a new puppy, a beach wheelchair or a ride on a tractor-trailer — gives the children something to look forward to other than blood draws and CT scans and the chilly fluorescent light of a medical exam room. And it strengthens them as they face their challenges, the nonprofit’s website notes.

The Manheim Auto Auction site offers these upsides: It has ample parking for the thousands of people expected to attend (space was an issue at Burle), and its indoor auction lanes can house the event’s food vendors. That means organizers won’t have to rent tents as they have in the past. Should it rain, as it did this year, the vendors will be under cover.

The event will require moving a few thousand auction cars, Joey Hughes, general manager of the local auction, told LNP, but “we are blessed with many team members that have voiced their eagerness to help make the Make-A-Wish convoy successful.”

If Make-A-Wish can practically move mountains to help seriously ill children, what’s a few thousand cars?

Kudos to the Manheim Auto Auction employees who have embraced the challenge.

Also, kudos to everyone in the Ephrata area who supported the convoy with such enthusiasm over the years.

Seanna Crosley, vice president of development for the Philadelphia, Delaware and Susquehanna Valley chapter of Make-A-Wish, told LNP that as the organization finalizes plans for the Manheim-based convoy, it will make “a concerted effort” to thank Ephrata-area communities for their past support.

They have set the bar high for the convoy’s new host communities. But given the reaction of Mount Joy folks so far — one pleased business owner called the event “iconic” — we’re confident the Make-A-Wish convoy will get the welcome it deserves.

Patriot Day

This September day, 18 years after that other September day, we remember the losses. The heartbreak. The terror. But also the heroes.

We remember the New York City firefighters who charged into the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The first responders at the Pentagon — aware by then of what had happened in New York — working to save lives even as they wondered if more hijacked planes were headed their way. The passengers of Flight 93, who banded together to ensure their plane never would reach the nation’s capital.

In December 2001, Congress passed a resignation making Sept. 11 Patriot Day.

In his September 2002 proclamation — when Patriot Day first was observed —  President George W. Bush noted that Americans “fought back against terror by choosing to overcome evil with good,” by “loving their neighbors as they would like to be loved.”

“We are a people dedicated to the triumph of freedom and democracy over evil and tyranny,” Bush’s proclamation read. “The heroic stories of the first responders who gave their all to save others strengthened our resolve.”

They were heroes then. They are heroes still.