Sunday, March 29, 2015

At Papa John’s Lot, it’s live music, good eats and plenty of giving back

Depending on your perspective, the highlight of any MATS show may be the spectacular product reveals, or perhaps the glitzy, glittering show trucks, or the miles and miles of free “swag” exhibitors give away in hopes of catching the attention of passersby at one of the hundreds of booths or displays.

But for a hardcore group of drivers, the highlights start and end with whatever’s going on at the Papa John’s Lot before and after the Kentucky Expo Center opens or shuts down each day.

The Papa John’s Stadium parking lot is where truckers can park their rigs and get shuttle service to and from the venue, but it’s also a hub of all sorts of activities, many of which are geared around one of truckers’ favorite pastimes – charitable giving.

Concerts included a Saturday night performance by OOIDA member Tony Justice, sponsored by OOIDA. Singer-songwriter and OOIDA member Joey Holiday also performed on both Thursday and Friday nights from his custom trailer/traveling stage.

Despite unseasonably cold temperatures on Thursday, Trucking Solutions Group hosted its annual Driver Health Walk, with TSG member and OOIDA director of regulatory affairs Scott Grenerth leading a procession of about 30 truckers on a 2.2-mile walk to Churchill Downs and back. TSG also hosted a roundtable discussion to promote Cooking In The Cab.

Several trucker charities hosted events for Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Groups involved include Jacob Russell Boulanger Memorial (JRBM) Fund and Truckers United for Charities, and the Just Because group (JBC). Trucker Charity and Operation Roger also participated.

An impromptu fundraiser was held during the Mid-America Trucking Show for the OOIDA Mary-Johnston Scholarship Fund. Spirit Captain Jon Osburn found some glow sticks from a previous show and members took off selling them on the lot. Looks like they did quite well.

The total amounts raised for various groups are still being tabulated, but early returns include more than $4,800 total raised for groups including St. Christopher Fund, the Last Ride Home, OOIDA’s Truckers for Troops, and Camp Quality Kentuckiana, which provides year-round programs and services for children with cancer and their families. Non-perishable food items were also donated to local food banks in Louisville.

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