A group of local Rotarians are about to make another trek down to Mexico with a convoy of vehicles. The 17th annual Highway to Mexico takes older model fire trucks, ambulances, and other emergency vehicles from Grande Prairie to Mazatlan to be donated to communities in need.
This year a fire truck, a rescue truck, and five school buses are being driven the nearly 5,000 kilometre journey. It will be Rotarian Felix Seiler’s 11th trip, one he expects will be just as rewarding as his first.
“We see every time they respond to an accident or they go to a fire or we see the buses as they go around, so for me it’s the gratification to see, even after all these years… some of them are in better shape than when we bring them down there.”
Next year’s trip will be a special one, as it bring down the 100th vehicle from Grande Prairie. Seiler says he’s particularly proud that all but a few are still on the road after 16 years.
The vehicles are typically bought from auctions or private sellers using Rotary funds raised through lotteries like the Dream Home and Cars for Christmas. They’re also stuffed with donated gear, which may be too old to be used by Canadian or industry standards, but is often unused.
“It’s miled out and it’s not insurable any more but some of this equipment is brand new; it has never been used because they just have to have it in case there’s an emergency.”
In addition to firefighting gear, this year’s donations also include 15 brand new wheelchairs found by a passionate Rotarian with MS, radios, soccer jerseys, and musical instruments. The drive will start Friday at 6 a.m. and typically takes just less than eight days.