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'Convoy for a cure': West Side Transport raises money for Eastern Iowa cancer groups

West Side Transport

West Side Transport has wrapped a trailer in pink with the message “Convoy for a Cure” as part of an initiative to raise money for cancer organizations.
West Side Transport West Side Transport has wrapped a trailer in pink with the message “Convoy for a Cure” as part of an initiative to raise money for cancer organizations.
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CEDAR RAPIDS — A Cedar Rapids-based transportation company has been turning heads with its specially wrapped pink trailer with multiple colored ribbons declaring “Convoy for a Cure.”

West Side Transport’s 53-foot-long Wabash trailer has been crisscrossing the Midwest and East Coast for the past few years and meanwhile generating money for organizations that are working toward a cure for cancer or to support those living with cancer.

“People get a chill when they see it,” said Sue Smith, the director of driver services who has lead the initiative. “When it pulls into a truck stop, everyone looks and wants to take pictures. I don’t know anyone hasn’t been touched by cancer in some way. The trailer evokes a lot of emotion.”

Smith lost her sister to cancer 14 years ago and numerous co-workers have battled cancer, so cancer is deeply personal for her and many of her colleagues, she said.

West Side, 4201 16th Ave. SW, sets aside 10 percent of revenue from deliveries made using the “Convoy for a Cure” trailer to donate to cancer-related charities. The contributions are not made on an annual basis but when the revenue total reaches a substantial amount to make a meaningful impact to organizations.

On Thursday, West Side is set to present a check for $10,000 to The American Cancer Society — Hope Lodge in Iowa City. It is the organization’s second major contribution through the initiative, which began in 2016. The first contribution went to Gems of Hope of Cedar Rapids in 2017.

Hope Lodge last year served 1,224 guests and provided 15,379 free room nights and 2,931 meals.

“They are entirely funded by private donations,” Smith said. “We are happy we can help them.”

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Smith pitched the idea to company leaders a few years ago, and they though it was a great idea. Employees then quickly raised the more than $30,000 needed to wrap the trailer and begin the effort.

“We have the opportunity — we have trucks and trailers going up and down the road every day — to do something to raise awareness about this disease that touches so many lives,” Smith said.

The hope is the distinct trailer and message inspires others to give to the cause, she said.

Roughly 80 drivers a year pull the trailer and many take pride in doing so, Smith said. The company has agreed to continue the fundraising effort through the life of the trailer, which is typically 10 to 12 years, she said.

It should turn out to be a lot of money and number of organizations they can help, she said.

• Comments: (319) 398-8310; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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