Truckers unite to throw birthday party for truck enthusiast with cerebral palsy

August 16, 2018

Mark Schremmer


Truck drivers from across the nation are uniting to celebrate the birthday of a teenager who suffers from Dandy-Walker Syndrome, cerebral palsy and seizures.

More than 300 trucks are expected to attend “18 Wheels for Bubba,” which will serve as the 16th birthday party of Dakota “Bubba” Cadd, a truck enthusiast from Milton, Wis.

The “surprise” party is scheduled to start at noon on Saturday, Aug. 18 at Shilsberg Park in Milton. All trucks are asked to be parked by 11 a.m.

“This is an amazing thing,” said Jeremy Wallenkamp, a longtime truck driver and one of the organizers of the party. “In all of the years I worked as an over-the-road truck driver, you couldn’t find drivers who agreed at a truck stop. But if you want brotherhood and sisterhood in the industry, this party is bringing the industry together. Everybody has rolled their sleeves up and worked so hard to make this happen.”

It all started when Mark King, a truck driver from CH Hall Trucking, noticed Dakota sitting in his wheelchair and watching trucks pass along Highway 26 in Milton. On his next trip by Dakota’s home, he left a T-shirt and toy truck as gifts.

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

Wallenkamp started the 18 Wheels for Bubba Facebook group in July. A month later, it already has more than 1,500 members.

“I asked his mother if we could throw a small birthday party for him,” Wallenkamp said. “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.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association Board Member Dick Pingel is attending the party to deliver a bag of goodies for Dakota and to make him an honorary member of the Association.

OOIDA member Ingrid Brown is making the sheet cakes for the party.

In all, Wallenkamp said he is expecting to have about 1,000 gifts for Dakota, who turned 16 on Wednesday, Aug. 15.

Dakota’s mother, Peggy Cadd, said Dakota has been enamored with big trucks almost his whole life.

“He’s loved trucks since he was 2 and we took him on a trip to Florida. He couldn’t talk very well, but he kept saying ‘truck’ all the way to Florida and back. Ever since then, he’s wanted to be outside and get the trucks to honk their horns.”

Peggy said the family is overwhelmed by the generosity displayed by the trucking industry.

“Tell the truckers that they’re awesome,” she said. “They make such a sacrifice for all the hard work they do. Now, I have even more respect for them than I already did.”