18 Wheels for Bubba: ‘A pretty amazing event’

August 20, 2018

Mark Schremmer

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The smile never seemed to leave Dakota “Bubba” Cadd’s face.

More than 180 trucks and an estimated 1,200 people attended “18 Wheels for Bubba” on Saturday, Aug. 18, in Milton, Wis., to celebrate the 16th birthday of a trucking enthusiast who suffers from Dandy-Walker Syndrome, cerebral palsy and seizures.

“It was a pretty amazing event,” said Peggy Cadd, Dakota’s mother. “Everything about it was awesome. We didn’t get to talk to everybody, but everyone was absolutely wonderful.”

Truck drivers who pass along Highway 26 in Milton have likely seen Dakota watching trucks as he sits in his wheelchair outside his home. Peggy said he has been fascinated with trucks since he was 2 years old, and will watch truck convoys on YouTube when he can’t go outside to watch the trucks.

About a month ago, Mark King, a truck driver for CH Hall Trucking, noticed Dakota and left a T-shirt and toy truck as gifts on his next trip past the house.

That kind act led to more truck drivers wanting to get involved and show their appreciation for Dakota.

Former truck driver Jeremy Wallenkamp started the 18 Wheels for Bubba Facebook group in July. A month later, it has more than 2,100 members.

“I asked his mother if we could throw a small birthday party for him,” Wallenkamp said last week. “I was hoping to get five to 10 trucks and cook a couple packs of brats. After the first post, I had five to 10 trucks in a minute. A day later, we had 100 trucks. I never expected this.”

About 180 trucks and 1,200 people attended 18 Wheels for Bubba on Saturday, Aug. 18 in Milton, Wis. (Photos courtesy of 18 Wheels for Bubba)

Truck drivers from all over the nation attended the party or sent gifts for Dakota.

His mother said Dakota received so many gifts that he could wear a different trucking hat and shirt every day of the year.

“He was so excited,” Peggy said. “He kept telling us that he was happy, and he was definitely on cloud nine.”

The party was kept as a surprise from Dakota until the day of the event. A limo picked up Dakota and his family and took them to Shilsberg Park in Milton. When they arrived, all of the trucks were waiting.

“When we pulled in, he looked at me and said ‘me’ as in ‘is this all for me,’” Peggy said. “We said, ‘yeah. This is your birthday party, and the truckers came for you.’”

At the party, Dakota got in the cab of OOIDA Life Member Craig Sagehorn’s B.J. and the Bear truck and honked the horn. He also opened a pile of gifts that included the Make-A-Wish Foundation naming Dakota a Wish Kid and being named an honorary member of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

But most of all, he got to see a lot of trucks and meet the truck drivers.

“At one point, Jeremy was driving Dakota in the golf cart to go get him some birthday cake. Dakota loves cake, but he said no. He wanted to see more trucks,” Peggy said.

CBS Evening News, as well as all of the local television stations were in attendance.

“After it was over, my husband (Rick Cadd) and I talked about how many people were there and the sacrifices they had to make to be at our son’s birthday,” Peggy said. “I know trucking isn’t an easy job, and it just shows you that there are some great truck drivers out there.

“Dakota has disabilities. We think he’s perfect, but we don’t always get that reaction. It wasn’t that way on Saturday. Everybody accepted him for who he is. He loves trucks, and they embraced him for that.”

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, staff writer, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and nearly two decades of journalism experience to our staff.