Mid-America Moments: Fundraising The Fight Against Cancer At MATS
Front row, left to right: Nicole, Debbie and Katie. Center: Tom and Sandy.
Back row: Shelby Corum and Gary Durnell. – photo by Steve Pollock -
By Steve Pollock
LOUISVILLE, KY… Thanks to some very special people and some very generous drivers $9,534 was raised at the recent Mid-America Trucking Show to sponsor walkers in the Annual Susan B. Komen 3 Day – 60 Mile Fundraiser. The sponsored walkers all donate their proceeds for cancer research and screening, including mobile mammograms. One extremely generous man donated $1000, stating, “I lost my wife to cancer six years ago.”
The MATS Fundraiser that sponsors walkers Stacy Thomas from Mercer Transportation and her son Jacob was started 6 years ago by Mercer contractors Tom and Debbie Berkel. Debbie was just 15 when her father died. With no finances, the family was going to have to split up, but local Police Officers raised $4,000, enabling Debbie’s Mom to keep the family together until she could find work to support them. Debbie never forgot the kindness and for many years she looked for a way to “give something back.” The opportunity came in 1986 when Debbie and her husband Tom raised $1,500 for Special Olympics through a Silent Auction at Mercer. Tom and Debbie earned the lead spot in the Special Olympics Parade at Louisville. The auction turned into an annual fundraising event at Mercer.
After learning that Mercer employee Stacy Thomas planned to walk in the Susan B. Komen Cancer Fundraiser, Tom and Debbie decided to raise funds for Stacy’s walk. The Berkels have now funded Stacy’s walk for the past 5 years. Since 2006 they have raised over $55,000 that has been donated to the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Research Fund.
A few years ago Tom and Debbie Berkel met their “Angels” – Gary, Sandy, Nicole and Katie Darnell, the owners of Radiator Works in Wyandotte, Michigan. The Darnells were giving away hats and t-shirts at their booth at the Mid-America Trucking Show and the Great American Trucking Show. The Darnells offered to ask for donations for the hats and t-shirts to fundraise for the Berkels. Since then the Darnells have had special pink t-shirts and hats made in the signature colors for Breast Cancer Awareness. Nicole and Katie Darnell even set up a lemonade stand to fundraise while they are out of school in the summer. Nicole made a special decorated donation box, which she has displayed at the Radiator Works booth at MATS to accept donations. The Darnells and Berkels have worked together the past few years at both MATS and GATS, raising thousands of dollars for cancer research and screening.
The Berkels are from Swansea, Illinois and have been professional truck drivers since 1981. The couple has owned 4 trucks, all of which have been leased to Mercer over their entire 31-year trucking career.
If you are interest in donating money towards walkers in the Susan B. Komen Cancer Research Fundraiser, contact Stacy Thomas at Mercer at 800-626-5375. They will sponsor as many walkers as they can with the available funds.