Good in the Hood: Every mile matters with Special Rigs for Special Kids
Community October 2, 2023
Now in its 30th year, Dunedin’s Special Rigs for Special Kids provides an unforgettable experience to children with all kinds of disabilities.
The annual road-trip-convoy asks truck drivers around the region to volunteer a day to take the kids and their families on a planned journey in their trucks, making for an unforgettable day for everyone involved. Event organiser Greg Inch says this year’s event, held on the 27th of August, was its biggest yet. “We had a convoy of 324 trucks this year, nearly one for every day of the year” he says.
“Kids love trucks! It seems like a simple concept, but for these kids it can be bigger than Christmas”.
“20,000 spectators lined our route this year, made up of families with kids signalling for drivers to honk the horns, which they happily oblige. Some kids start counting down 15 days or even a month in advance.”
Greg got the idea for Special Rigs for Special Kids from a mate who was driving overseas in the UK, 32 years go, and worked near an orphanage. Every weekend the kids would help drivers clean the trucks, so to thank the kids the drivers took them for a ride.
When Greg heard about this he thought "we could do something like that".
The convoy starts at Dunedin’s Edgar Centre Portsmouth Drive, travels around Dunedin, through Mosgiel and around North Taieri, before returning to the starting point for a barbeque.
It includes an impressive array of trucks, with a convoy that can sometimes reach 12km long, including concrete trucks, 18 wheelers and line haulers from Kenworth, Foden, Volvo, Scania and Mack.
It’s a full-scale operation. Police provide officers who volunteer their time to help lead the convoy, do point duty, and help with traffic flow. St John Ambulance also provides volunteers to help if any medical needs arise during the event.
The chosen venue each year needs to be huge, with parking for over 300 trucks, an undercover area in case of bad weather, power, water, toilets and access as many of the kids have limited mobility.
Greg says he’s extremely grateful to have had the support of Good in the Hood last year, and the trucking community is looking forward to participating again this year.
“There are a lot of elements that go into running a successful day,” he says. “Any and all funds we can raise make a huge difference, providing catering, traffic management and goodie bags for the kids with trucking caps and lollies.”
"Keep an eye out for us in Z Mosgiel this year,” he says. “Last year, truck drivers would make sure to stop by the station for coffees or a pie, knowing that it would support our event. We're travellers. We go through more fuel than anyone!”
If you’d like to learn more about Special Rigs for Special Kids and how you can support them, head to https://www.specialrigs.org.nz/about.html.