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Text: Dr. Bernd Seydel, Juliane Gringer
Photos: Dr. Bernd Seydel
When around 125 trucks drive onto the large motorway service area in Schwabhausen, near Gotha in the German state of Thuringia, quite a few of the people watching have tears in their eyes and goosebumps . This is because there’s a child in every driver’s cab that is enjoying a very special happy day today. ‘A Happy Day of Life’ is the name of the annual charity event that gives children and young people from difficult backgrounds the opportunity to go for a ride in a real truck.
A 12-kilometre convoy
‘We invite children and young people from local children’s homes to come and enjoy an unforgettable experience,’ says Ulrike Müller, chairwoman of Bewegen mit Herz e.V. and one of the organisers of the event. In the morning, the trucks met in the courtyard of a logistics company in Erfurt. Then the passengers arrived – kids from various local children’s homes and facilities. Once there, they got to choose which driver they wanted to join in the cab. Carlo chose the white truck from haulier Johs. Martens. Then the trucks set off on the journey with ‘their’ children as part of a convoy more than 12 kilometres long via the A4 motorway towards Gotha. Their destination: the SVG Gotha/Schwabhausen motorway service area. Upon entering the large parking lot, the trucks all began to honk their horns – a touching moment.
Helping others brings joy
Susanne Martens-Ulrich, member of the management board of haulier Spedition Johs. Martens, explains her motivation to participate in the event: ‘When does a haulier have the opportunity to directly do something so special for children?’ The company supports ‘A Happy Day of Life’ both as a sponsor and with a team on location. This year Spedition Johs. Martens even brought two trucks along. ‘We also donate to organisations in Hamburg that help children, but we are especially happy to be part of this truck ride and the party afterwards, because it is seldom so easy to directly see the difference you are making. It’s simply wonderful to watch the children enjoying the day from the bottom of their hearts – and also to see how the drivers clearly do as well.’ The latter all take part on a volunteer basis – their time with the kids does not count as a day of work. The participating hauliers must also schedule the vehicles so that the trucks are used as close as possible to the event location. Nevertheless, it can easily still add up to several hundred additional kilometres. But, as Martens-Ulrich says: ‘The happiness in the eyes of the children makes the additional cost more than worth it.’
The balloons filled with helium are released into the sky in the evening. Before that, each child has the chance to hang a card with a wish on his or her balloon. What they write on the cards is quite touching, and includes everything from a scented bubble bath to the desire to spend another day with mum or dad.
Regular meetings between truck drivers and the motorway police
Giving the gift of an emotional experience
Susanne Martens-Ulrich from haulier Spedition Johs. Martens also likes the fact that on this day, the truck drivers can demonstrate that some of the preconceptions people have towards them and their vehicles are simply not true: ‘People constantly complain about the nasty trucks that clog up the cities and get in the way on the motorway. Yet they rarely think about the people behind the wheel doing their job with a great sense of responsibility and an even bigger heart. This event shines a spotlight on them, so people can see what a wonderful thing they are doing for the children here.’ And last but not least, there are also many beautiful vehicles to admire on this day, making the event a special kind of trucking event – a truck show with heart.