A CLOSER LOOK

The 10th Trucking for Kids Convoy is Sunday, rain or shine, from 7 a.m.-4 p.m. at Scarborough Downs. Admission is free.

In addition to a convoy through Scarborough and South Portland, events include a driver skills competition, barbecue lunch, a performance by interactive children’s band “Little Melodies” and pony rides.

Scarborough and South Portland residents should expect traffic to slow down around noon Sunday as a convoy of more than 100 trucks passes through the two communities. For the 10th year in a row, drivers will shine up and line up their vehicles, showing off to spectators and raising money for kids.

The Trucking for Kids Convoy will start and end at Scarborough Downs. The event raises money for Camp Sunshine, a retreat for critically ill children and their families located in Casco. Any and all size trucks are welcomed to enter the parade, whose route goes from Scarborough Downs to Payne Road to Gorham Road to Westbrook Street and back to Scarborough Downs.

But that’s only one part of the day’s festivities, which are open to the public and aimed at families. Commercial truck drivers can enter a driving skills competition, where the professionals maneuver their trucks around tight turns. According to Dick Brown, one of the event’s organizers, “They go at it tooth and nail.” Drivers can pay a fee to enter the competition as many times as they want to in order to try beat the best score.

“It’s won or lost by a matter of inches,” said chief organizer Kevin Battle, who is a South Portland police officer.

Brown, who is a retired truck driver, said the drivers aren’t only battling it out in the skills competition, but also in raising money to sponsor their trucks in the convoy.

“Raising money is a competition among drivers,” he said.

At noon, the trucks begin their parade through town. Battle said each year, more trucks have entered and more money has been raised, for a total of more than $25,000 donated to Camp Sunshine over the past decade.

Mike Smith, director of special events at the camp, called the event “a fantastic supporter.” He said the money raised has helped the camp expand from eight sessions held in 2001 to 27 held this year. Each session of camp is dedicated to a certain illness, and children and their families come to get away from treatment and financial stress and to meet a whole new network of friends with a shared experience.

“We certainly couldn’t do it without that continued support,” Smith said. “It’s nice to know somebody is going to be on board every year.”

Due to the generosity of volunteers working the event and donations of food and raffle prizes, Battle said, every cent raised goes to kids in Maine. Though the majority of the money is donated to Camp Sunshine, Battle said money also goes to local DARE, Officer Friendly and other community policing programs for children.

Prizes are awarded to the trucks in the show, and everyone is invited to participate in a barbecue lunch, a performance by interactive children’s band “Little Melodies” and pony rides.

The event isn’t only about the kids. It’s fun for the drivers, too.

“There’s a lot of negative publicity up here for truck drivers. I wanted to do something positive,” Battle said about first starting the event.

Denis Litalien, who drives trucks for Shaw’s supermarkets and serves as the treasurer for the event’s organizational committee, said it’s a treat for drivers to show off their trucks and a great excuse to get them “all cleaned up and spiffy.”

“It’s a fun thing to do because it’s a worthwhile thing to do,” he said.

Keep on truckin’: Convoy fundraiser in 10th year


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