OOIDA’s tour trailer joins South Dakota Truck Convoy for Special Olympics

September 16, 2021

Chuck Robinson

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The South Dakota Truck Convoy for Special Olympics is just around the corner, and the skipper of OOIDA’s tour trailer is looking forward to the event.

Marty Ellis drives the Western Star that pulls the Spirit of the American Trucker trailer across the United States. Ellis has been involved in the South Dakota Convoy since 2002 as a volunteer and organizer.

The South Dakota Truck Convoy for Special Olympics is scheduled for Sept. 17-18 in Sioux Falls. Ellis and The Spirit are scheduled to be there at the W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds. The fairgrounds are near I-29 at the W. 12th Street exit on the north side of Sioux Falls.

South Dakota has held two related annual Truck Convoys to benefit Special Olympics, but this year the event planned for Rapid City was canceled because of a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Ellis has some strong ties to South Dakota. Though his home base is in Carl Junction, Mo., before becoming skipper of the Spirit of the American Trucker tour trailer Ellis was a company driver for a South Dakota carrier, A&A Express. He also has won four state titles from the South Dakota Truck Driving Championships and has served as president and vice president of the group.

Fundraiser, historic trucks and more

Truckers pay a fee to be part of the South Dakota Truck Convoy for Special Olympics. All of the money raised benefits the Law Enforcement Torch Run, Special Olympics South Dakota’s largest grassroots fundraising campaign. Special Olympics South Dakota has more than 2,500 athletes statewide, according to SDConvoy.org.

In addition to the Truck Convoy, a poker tournament, raffles and a live auction are planned, Ellis said. Also, area Boy Scouts are planning events to earn a transportation merit badges, he said on Land Line Now, plus they are planning to present a truck show trophy. At earlier convoys, the Boy Scouts volunteered to help at the event but this year they have added the merit badge.

Adding to the event, the Tri-State Chapter of the American Truck Historical Society will again hold a truck show alongside the South Dakota Truck Convoy show.

“They’ve done that for a few years now, and I am hoping they keep it up. It’s great to see some of those old trucks out there,” Ellis said.

Ellis said he became a member of the ATHS once he figured out he didn’t have to own an old truck to join. You just have to like them and want to support their organization, he said.

Since 2003, the South Dakota Truck Convoys have raised more than $729,000 for the South Dakota Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, according to SDConvoy.org. There have been have 1,971 trucks involved.

The Truck Convoys for Special Olympics started as a local event in Florida in 2001. Since then, the event has evolved into an annual international movement with convoys in 24 U.S. states and four Canadian provinces.

Stop by when you see The Spirit

If you see OOIDA’s tour trailer, stop by and say hello. Ellis is looking forward to visiting about the Association’s activities and current issues. There are copies of Land Line Magazine to pick up there. You can join or renew your membership for $10 off the regular price there. Face masks are available at The Spirit for anyone with a commercial driver’s license.

After the stop at the South Dakota Truck Convoy for Special Olympics, The Spirit is scheduled to be at the Guilty By Association Truck Show in Joplin, Mo.

Here is the schedule for The Spirit. LL

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Chuck Robinson formerly was senior copy editor for a weekly trade publication serving the fresh produce industry. He has served trade publications, horticultural journals and community newspapers for 25 years.