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Watch now: Coles County Truck Convoy moving to former Trailmobile site in Charleston

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Thanks to a grant from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a young Mattoon girl's family received a camper that was presented to them after about two dozen vehicles filled with well-wishers drove past the family's home on Jan. 3 on Marshall Avenue in Mattoon.

CHARLESTON — The Coles County Truck Convoy is set to move to a new venue in 2021 where truck drivers and other participants will have room to spread out as they raise money for Make-A-Wish of Illinois.

The third annual fundraiser is scheduled to be held Aug. 7 at the location of the former Trailmobile semitrailer manufacturing facility at 1000 N. 14th St. on the northern edge of Charleston. Event coordinators have begun signing up truck drivers for the convoy from Charleston to Mattoon and back, plus merchants and volunteers for this event.

Convoy cofounder Joy Eggers of Mattoon said they had been considering venue options earlier this year after holding the first fundraiser at the Coles County Fairground and the second at the Coles County Memorial Airport. She said convoy participant Mike King and Justin Sunkel then contacted the Trailmobile site's ownership, looked over the property, and suggested it as a venue.

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Sunkel said the property is gated, has a large amount of parking spaces, and is located in the countryside. This site is also located between Illinois Route 130 and East County Road 1000N, which provides direct access to Coles County's northernmost Interstate 57 interchange.

"It's just a really nice location. It's easy for everyone to get in and out of coming from all directions," Sunkel said. He has joined the convoy advisory board and will serve with King as coordinators for the 2021 event.

The Trailmobile plant closed in late 2001, many of its former manufacturing structures were later dismantled, and part of property has been used for storage since then.

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Eggers said their new board member, as owner of Sunkel Excavating and Sunkel Trucking, has the equipment and skills needed to get the property cleaned up and ready to host the Aug. 7 fundraiser. She noted that his businesses also will be this year's "Face of the Convoy" as an advertising sponsor.

"It's going to take quite a bit of cleaning. I think it will look really good once we get it all said and done," Sunkel said.

The 2020 fundraiser offered limited activities beyond the convoy itself due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but still drew more than 80 truck drivers. Eggers said they plan this year to bring back the type of children's games, food booths, merchants and other activities that were part of the inaugural fundraiser in 2019. She and her husband, Sid, founded this event.

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Eggers said current Make-A-Wish children will not be able to take part in this year's convoy due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns, but she is hopeful that Make-A-Wish alumni will be in attendance.

Proceeds from driver registration fees, auctions and other fundraising will once again go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes such as family vacations and special events for children with critical illnesses.

More information about driving in the convoy, setting up as a merchant there or volunteering at the event is available by contacting the coordinators via the Coles County Truck Convoy page on Facebook.


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Reporter

Rob Stroud is a reporter for the JG-TC, covering the city of Mattoon, Lake Land College, Cumberland County and areas including Oakland, Casey and Martinsville.

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