Ollie the birthday boy was over the moon. Photo / Mike Scott
When the parents of a 7-year-old truck-obsessed boy posted on Facebook asking for a truck ride, never in their wildest dreams did they expect 64 truckies to respond to their call.
Oliver Johnson, 7, is obsessed with trucks, and his mother, Katherine, posted on Facebook offering $50 to anyone willing to take him for a ride in their truck for his birthday. Katherine said Oliver was feeling lonely and hoped a truck ride would make him smile.
“Ollie knows every single name of every single truck and every single truck company. He gets the trucking magazine every month,” Katherine said.
“All he wants to do is be a truck driver. He is just obsessed.”
Katherine hoped just one truck driver would take up her offer, but Hart Haulage owner Barry Hart thought he could do better than that 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.
“I just saw that there was a kid who didn’t feel like he had friends and didn’t feel like he had a community around him,” Hart said.
“I wanted to make sure that, and I would like to hope that every kid knows, that there is a community and people out there that will back them and stand beside them.”
Hart said 34 signed up, but on the day almost twice that number turned up with their big rigs – some travelling more than 120km to take part.
“It’s been a very successful day, and it’s been really cool…and it’s just fantastic,” Hart said.
Hart said he had expected about 15 or 20 truckies to take part, but it just got bigger as word spread.
He believed that after three years of “so much negativity” – from the Covid-19 pandemic to extreme weather events – people wanted something to look forward to.
“When it comes to kids, this community, these truckers will always come out,” he said.
“It’s a young fella and we wanted him to know there was a community around him.”
Hart said it would have cost some of the Auckland truckies between $500-$600 to get their trucks to Hamilton, but no one had asked for anything.
Ollie’s dad Simon Johnson said they were “literally blown away” by the number of trucks that turned up.
He said Ollie had absolutely no idea that there would be a truck convoy coming to celebrate his birthday until the trucks turned up.
“His reaction all day will just be sunshine in everybody’s eyes,” Johnson said.
Ollie is still on cloud nine, Johnson said, and this day has been a dream come true as he is obsessed with trucks.
“To be perfectly honest, today has meant more than we could have ever imagined.
“How one little post on Facebook can go to what has been achieved today is absolutely phenomenal, and ‘thank you’ just doesn’t cover what’s happened today.”
Johnson said they received comments from all over the world, and they will be forever grateful and humbled by what has taken place.
“We just can’t thank all the people enough,” he said.