Eldon Jaeger’s voice cracks when he talks of losing his daughter, Brenda, to cancer 11 years ago.
And his wife, Barbara, is also a cancer survivor.
Knowing the battles people face with disease and wanting to do something to help, Jaeger has worked tirelessly organizing the Midwest Pride In Your Ride events, which started 12 years ago. This year, graced with perfect weather, 39 tractors and 252 semi-trucks from 13 states, some coming as far away as Wyoming, endured the high fuel costs to support the cause. An estimated 2,500-3000 people attended this year’s Truck and Tractor Show held May 6-7 at the Tri-State Raceway in Earlville. On Friday alone, the track concession stand sold 200 hamburgers and 200 hot dogs.
Friday afternoon a string of 53 trucks, most carrying a cancer survivor, crawled respectfully past the packed bleachers for over an hour in a “Survivor Convoy.” Later, hundreds gathered on the grassy knolls and metal bleachers were treated to tractor and truck pulls that lasted late into the night. The night ended with the light show of trucks.
Like so many others armed with research hope and gathering to support loved ones battling cancer, Earlville’s Gilbert and Carolyn Fangman watched the Survivor Convoy, hoping to see their son-in-law, who is battling pancreatic cancer, riding in one of the trucks.
Sandy Weber, Masonville, volunteering in one of the concession booths, recalls how scared she was when she was diagnosed had Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma while raising two small children 26 years ago. Thankfully, she is cancer-free today.
Saturday, lifetime achievement awards were given before the Live Auction, honoring those who have given decades to the trucking industry.
“Everybody here is an important part of this whole deal,” Jaeger told the auction crowd, while thanking those who donated, bought items, and the army of over 100 volunteers who made the fundraiser such a success.
The event ended with the much-anticipated truck drag racing, announced by Reid Kuhlman, owner and announcer for the race track.
All proceeds will benefit the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.