Rigs bring big smiles to area
After weeks of buildup, the Horns of Hope Convoy traversed the northern part of Chautauqua County over the weekend. According to event organizer Johnnie Lindstrom, everything appeared to be a smooth ride
“It went very well,” she said. “But Saturday was a blur. It was so busy for me.”
Lindstrom’s son, Nathen, originally had a truck convoy for his birthday. He enjoyed that celebration so much, he wanted to share it with others, which is how the Horns of Hope convoy occurred. Lindstrom then spent the next several months getting clearance from all the local municipalities and organizing the event to turn it into the success it was.
In all, 76 semis registered to drive in the event, which doesn’t include any ambulances, fire trucks, or police escorts that also participated. And as part of the celebration, terminally ill or disabled children were able to join the drivers in their trucks.
There wasn’t much room in the trucks to spare. “Out of the 76 semis, we had one truck running with nobody in the passenger seat,” Lindstrom said. “It was an excellent turnout.”
The convoy started at the Chautauqua County Fairgrounds, then made its way through Dunkirk, Westfield, Brocton, and before going back to the Fairgrounds for a chicken barbecue and penny auction. Lindstrom said that at the last minute, several baskets for the raffle came in, which also included large item giveaways like a toolbox. When all was said and done, there were over 150 baskets in the raffle. Upon arriving back at the Fairgrounds, Lindstrom said she couldn’t believe the amount of people who were there to join them.
“It was a lot bigger turnout than we ever expected,” Lindstrom said. “There were so many community members cheering us on from the streets, donating baskets, and making signs for the drivers. I can’t even express it. It was breathtaking.”
“The parking lot at the Fairgrounds had like 300 cars,” Lindstrom continued. “It was full, to the point where I wondered what we were going to do. I didn’t know how to take it in. It was an amazing experience.”
But the biggest takeaway for Lindstrom was how much the children riding in the trucks enjoyed their experience. The drivers of the trucks tied ropes to their air horns and ran them to the passenger seats so the kids were in control, while the kids would talk to each other through the CB radios. There were points, according to Lindstrom, where there wasn’t really a dry eye around.
“Seeing the kids loaded into trucks, they were ecstatic and filled with joy,” Lindstrom said. “We had drivers and others in tears just watching the excitement of the kids getting in the trucks.”
At the end of the day, Lindstrom are grateful to the entire community for their participation, including the municipalities themselves. Fredonia, Portland, Westfield, Brocton, and Dunkirk each had fire trucks participating in the Convoy, while Portland also sent a dump truck.
“We want to thank the community for their love, support, and patience,” Lindstrom said. “Seeing all the people clapping, laughing, smiling, and showing their signs on the side of the road was unbelievable. All the volunteers, the riders, the drivers, we don’t know how to thank them enough. There were so many hands that had to play a role in making this happen.”
Additionally, the Chautauqua County Fire Police, Sheriffs, and State Police did a commendable job directing traffic, according to Lindstrom and the other participating drivers.
“We had so many compliments from some of these guys who have participated in other truck events in other locations,” Lindstrom said. “They said we 100 percent topped the traffic control aspect.”
A helicopter from WNY Helicopters was on site, flying around the Convoy, piloted by Scott Lovley, while Kyle Roof was there as videographer. A model of Optimus Prime was also in the Convoy and at the
Even prior to the success of the event, Lindstrom said they already had a tentative date to do Horns of Hope again next year. The date they’re looking at is July 2, 2022. But before that, they will be presenting a check on Friday morning to the Make-a-Wish location in Amherst.
The Lindstroms would also like to thank all of their sponsors, which include AG Team, St. George Construction, Kravitz Tree Service, Rizzo Excavation, WNY Helicopters, Sensible Sales and Leasing, Turley Towing and Truck Service, Hae Jude Signs, Basil, Shults, St. Stephen’s Cafe, B&B Transport, Mayville Tremaine Insurance, DeMarco Trucking, Crusade’s, Casella, Joe’s Auto Wrecking, and Fredonia Chrysler.