Trucking sector pulls through for birthday boy Ollie

In News3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJuly 13, 2023

New Zealand’s trucking sector came together last week to celebrate the birthday of seven-year-old Ollie Johnson in Hamilton.

His parents posted on Facebook asking for a truck ride for truck-obsessed Ollie. But the sector came through with no less than 64 trucks answering their call.

Ollie’s mother had offered $50 to anyone willing to take her son for a ride in their truck for his birthday. She said Ollie was feeling lonely and hoped a ride in a truck would cheer him up.

“All he wants to do is be a truck driver. He is just obsessed,” she said.

After seeing the post, Hart Haulage owner Barry Hart thought he could do better than just one truck ride and began planning a truck convoy just for Oliver.

Hart put a call out on social media and 64 drivers turned up for Ollie’s birthday convoy on Sunday morning.

“At the end of registration I had 34 people, and then I had some people call and we got to about 45. So reaching 64 is just unbelievable, it’s phenomenal,” Hart told New Zealand Trucking.

“It’s the norm for truckers and our industry. It’s why we love this industry. Our story, truckers saved our son’s life, and then to see this, and give back, it’s just wonderful.”

Some truckers travelled more than 120km in their big rigs to take part.

“For all the guys to come along, it’s pretty cool,” Hart said.

The convoy grouped and started from the Hart Haulage yard near Huntington in Hamilton. It ran down the Waikato Expressway to Hautapu, finishing up at the yards of C&R Developments.

C&R Developments opened up its car and machinery museum for everyone to enjoy, while Service Foods Ltd provided hot food and cold beverages via a food truck stall for the crowds that were there.

There were approximately 250 to 300 people at the event.

Mum Katherine, who put up the original Facebook post, said Ollie was brought up around trucks.

“We are so grateful. This story has gone around the world, we are so humbled,” she said.

Dad Simon said the industry really came together.

“Thank you doesn’t cover what happened today,” he said.

“A lot of people have gone to a lot of effort to make today happen, and it’s those people who couldn’t be here who have helped us along the way, we really want to say thank you.

“And thank you to Hart Haulage, who has been on the same page the whole journey, we are just so grateful.”

And Ollie’s faevourite truck of the show? A C509 Kenworth. He even had a go at blasting the horn.