Can­berra cav­al­cade

It started with a 480-strong truck con­voy through Aus­tralia’s cap­i­tal and ended with a per­for­mance by Men­tal as Any­thing. Ta­mara Whitsed at­tended Can­berra’s 2018 Rise Above Can­cer Con­voy

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480 trucks take part in Rise Above Can­cer Con­voy

AMASSIVE $410,000 was raised at Can­berra’s Rise Above Can­cer Con­voy, which at­tracted about 480 trucks on April 8. The trucks as­sem­bled at Beard near Quean­beyan early on the Sun­day morn­ing and trav­elled through Can­berra be­fore lin­ing up for a truck dis­play at Ex­hi­bi­tion Park (EPIC), Mitchell. The con­voy at­tracted about 200 mo­tor­bikes and 480 trucks. Chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Rise Above – Cap­i­tal Re­gion Can­cer Relief, Melissa Gar­diner, was ex­cited to see the lineup area at Beard full of trucks. “We never usu­ally fill it,” she says. Gen­er­ous Elvin Group bid a record $67,128.49 to be the first truck in the con­voy. The com­pany’s gen­eral man­ager, Chris Rut­ledge, led the trucks in a Ken­worth 10-wheel ag­i­ta­tor.

Fol­low­ing Elvin’s Ken­worth were trucks owned by the other top bid­ders: Icon Water; PFD Food Ser­vices, Fysh­wick; the Illawarra Con­voy crew; TJS Trans­port; In­naimo Trans­port; DJ Homes; Gun­gahlin Con­crete and Spe­cialised Tow­ing.

A to­tal of 29 Elvin trucks took part in the con­voy. Sch­midt Quar­ries, Hol­cim, TJS Trans­port and In­naimo were among the many other com­pa­nies which pol­ished large num­bers of trucks for the pro­ces­sion. Many of the trucks dis­played ban­ners in mem­ory of peo­ple, in­clud­ing young chil­dren, who have lost their lives to can­cer.

$410K for can­cer

Bid­ding for the lead truck was a ma­jor part of the fundrais­ing ef­fort. A large con­tri­bu­tion from a se­cret donor helped reach the new $410,000 record.

“With­out the truck­ing com­mu­nity there wouldn’t be a con­voy.”

The money will be put to good use by Rise Above – Cap­i­tal Re­gion Can­cer Relief. “We pay for chemo­ther­apy, med­i­ca­tions, food and fuel, elec­tric­ity and gas and di­etary sup­ple­ments,” Melissa says.

“There aren’t many char­i­ties out there that do that. Most of them are all re­search. We have over 800 pa­tients and we spend $600,000 a year on those pa­tients.

“With­out the truck­ing com­mu­nity there wouldn’t be a con­voy. We wouldn’t raise that $400,000 and we wouldn’t be able to sup­port as many peo­ple as we do. So [trucks] are our bread and but­ter I sup­pose.”

Melissa says the con­voy will cre­ate aware­ness about the ser­vices which Rise Above – Cap­i­tal Re­gion Can­cer Relief of­fers to res­i­dents of the Can­berra re­gion. The event will also draw at­ten­tion to the char­ity’s new name. “We used to be the Can­cer Sup­port Group but just got con­fused with other char­i­ties. That’s why we changed it. Peo­ple get to know your name and I sup­pose the con­voy is a good way to get it out there.”

Melissa helped re­vive the Can­berra con­voy in 2012. She re­calls the teething prob­lems they ex­pe­ri­enced that first year. “We had no idea. We had the whole of Mitchell just to­tally blocked off to any­one. And we had it on the Satur­day. No one com­plained – not one per­son.”

This year, hun­dreds of reg­u­lar sup­port­ers helped the con­voy run smoothly. “I sup­pose we’ve just got it down pat and we don’t change it. The trucks know to line up at Beard. This year it was so easy, they just all drove in there them­selves. They knew where to park. The route is just per­fect be­cause we have peo­ple along the sides of the roads.” And EPIC is prov­ing an ideal venue for the truck dis­play and fair, which was at­tended by about 2000 peo­ple of all ages.

The fair, car­ni­val rides, food and live mu­sic by pop­u­lar per­form­ers are part of the win­ning for­mula. This year, Men­tal as Any­thing en­ter­tained the crowd. Men­tal fans en­joyed the band from the grand­stand, and the mu­sic could be heard through­out the fair.

Plan­ning is al­ready un­der­way for the 2019 con­voy, which will take place on Sun­day, April 7. Melissa says it takes a full 12 months to or­gan­ise the an­nual event. “There are only three of us in the of­fice and we do most of the or­gan­is­ing. Plus we look after the pa­tients.”

The as­sis­tance of vol­un­teers is vi­tal to the con­voy’s suc­cess. Melissa says many of the vol­un­teers have been af­fected by can­cer in some way. “There was a cou­ple of pa­tients there that had fin­ished their treat­ment and gone through their bat­tle. They were there vol­un­teer­ing.”

Elvin leads the way

Driv­ing the lead truck in the Rise Above Can­cer Con­voy was a dream come true for Elvin Group gen­eral man­ager Chris Rut­ledge.

Chris drove Elvin’s Ken­worth 10-wheel ag­i­ta­tor with his son Cameron Rut­ledge in the pas­sen­ger seat. They sounded the horn for the thou­sands who lined the streets be­tween Beard and Mitchell. Chris de­scribed the ex­pe­ri­ence as “very touch­ing” be­cause the event was rais­ing funds for such a wor­thy cause.

Rise Above – Cap­i­tal Re­gion Can­cer Relief helps can­cer pa­tients of all ages, and Chris is es­pe­cially mind­ful of the work it does for chil­dren with can­cer. “The young kids need a chance to have a life. The money is spent lo­cally around the area. It’s al­ways good to see that hap­pen.”

He was pleased to see so many fam­i­lies and young chil­dren en­joy­ing the con­voy and fair. “They al­ways like to see the trucks and have a great day.”

Chris is grate­ful to the many peo­ple who helped him achieve his goal of lead­ing the con­voy in an Elvin truck.

“I’ve al­ways wanted the lead and we’ve al­ways run sec­ond or third over the years. I thought I’d bet­ter get it be­fore I re­tire.”

The Elvin fam­ily kicked off Chris’s fundrais­ing ef­fort with a do­na­tion of $25,000. His work­mates, sup­pli­ers and other sup­port­ers also made gen­er­ous do­na­tions.

In pre­vi­ous years, Chris’s friend Terry Ste­wart from TJS Trans­port has bid against Elvin, but this year Terry con­trib­uted to Elvin’s fundrais­ing to help Chris achieve his dream.

Chris has worked in the con­crete in­dus­try since 1970 and has been gen­eral man­ager at Elvin for 18 years. Elvin Group was founded by Leonie Elvin and her late hus­band Tom and is con­tin­ued to­day by their sons Vic and Craig. The com­pany has two con­crete plants and 40 trucks sup­ply­ing the lo­cal area. Chris says his re­tire­ment is still a while away – maybe 2019 or 2020.

To stay up to date about the 2019 Rise Above Can­cer Con­voy, visit con­voy.riseabovecbr.org.au or like the Rise Above Can­cer Con­voy Face­book page.

Above: Allan Wil­liams gives the con­voy the thumbs up. He drove Steve Smar­la­makis’ 2008 Ken­worth 908 in the con­voy. In­spired by a young can­cer pa­tient, Allan has taken part in five con­voys

Left: Chris Barry proudly dis­plays his 1961 Mack B61

Above L to R: Gen­eral man­ager of Elvin Group, Chris Rut­ledge, and his grand­son Zac. Chris was de­ter­mined to win lead truck be­fore he re­tires; The Elvin fam­ily - Abby, Vic, Gus, Craig, Dane, Zac and Leonie. They were proud the com­pany’s bid for lead...

Left: The Illawarra Con­voy crew’s gen­eros­ity ex­tends to the ACT. Their do­na­tion to Rise for Can­cer earned them a place in the lead pack Be­low: Tony Day, op­er­a­tions man­ager for Tony In­naimo Trans­port with some of the 17 In­naimo trucks lined up at EPIC

Right: This DAF was one of many trucks from the Gun­gahlin fleet tak­ing part in the con­voy

Be­low: Trucks from the fleets of Spe­cial­ized Tow­ing and DJ Homes. Both com­pa­nies were among the top bid­ders at the lead truck auc­tion Op­po­site bot­tom: Icon Water’s Sca­nia. The com­pany was sec­ond-high­est bid­der for the lead truck

Top: About 480 trucks lined up at EPIC after the con­voy

Above L to R: Melissa Gar­diner, Chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Rise Above – Cap­i­tal Re­gion Can­cer Relief; Sch­midt Quar­ries’ spot­less or­ange trucks stood out; The con­voy in­cluded about 200 mo­tor­bikes

Sec­ond top row L to R: The con­voy passes through Camp­bell on its way to EPIC; The ban­ner on MJ Rowles’ Mack re­minds us what the con­voy is about

Bot­tom right: This Ken­worth was one of many from the Abletts Trans­port fleet

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