Jim Mimm holds his friend Carson Cutolo as they prepare to hit the road for the Make-A-Wish Foundation's Mother's Day Convoy, an annual fundraiser held in New Holland. Mimm and Cutolo, a Make- A-Wish recipient, have been riding together in the convoy together for the past three years and will do so again on the May 12 event.
Apart from his service in the United States Marine Corps, James ‘Jim’ Mimm has spent his entire life in Honey Brook. He is a member of the Honey Brook Lions Club and has been a truck driver for Bannon Metals for 25 years. He is a man of generous character, so when he first caught wind of the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Mother Day Truck Convoy, an annual fundraising event held in New Holland for children with life-altering diseases and illnesses, he immediately knew that he wanted to get involved.
“I was amazed that I never heard about it,” Mimm said. “(The convoy), which begins at Burle Industries of Lancaster in New Holland, raises money to give a child a wish he or she may not been able to have. The first year I did it there were 400 trucks involved. It’s amazing because every driver puts a lot of time in to getting their trucks ready - every inch of aluminum polished, these trucks are just spotless. They set up a stage and have stuff like auctions, food vendors, clowns for the kids. At noon they have memorial service for all the children lost within the past year, and after the service they pair you up with (a Make-A-Wish kid) for the convoy.”
With nine years and nine convoys to his credit, Mimm estimates that his fundraising efforts in the community have raised between $40,000 - $55,000 in donations for Make-A-Wish.
“The first year I participated I raised $800 (and) each year I have raised more and more.”
Both last year and the year before Mimm raised $15,000 for the foundation. To lead off this year’s fundraising efforts, Mimm, his wife Marcie, and their friends Debbie Elmer, Susan Shirk, Jake Phillips (owner of the former Jake’s Place restaurant) will once again be holding a sandwich sale at the Honey Brook Lions Club. This sale, the Second Annual Make-A-Wish Hoagie and Steak Sandwich Sale, will be on Saturday, March 9, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., or until sandwiches are sold out.
Last year’s sandwich sale raised a whopping $6,000 for Make-A-Wish, which equaled 1,000 sandwiches sold at the Lions Club. This year the $6 sandwich menu includes turkey hoagies, American hoagies, Italian hoagies, cheese steak sandwiches, and Jake Steaks (a steak sandwich made with BBQ sauce and Swiss cheese).
“These are some of the best sandwiches around,” Mimm said. “They will be come on 9-inch rolls and we pack them full because we want people to come back. They will be more like deli sandwiches than fundraiser hoagies. This year we will not be taking pre-orders for sandwiches.”
There will also be baked items for sale, as well as something new from last year – kettle corn.
“Uncle Jerry’s in Lancaster County will be participating this year by selling bags of kettle corn,” said Mimm, “they will be donating part of the money they raise to our Make-A-Wish fund.”
There are also raffle items available, including Philadelphia Eagles, Phillies, and Flyers items, a Total Gym workout system, and a nice wooden bench.
“We are going to have plenty of good raffle items,” Mimm promised, “there will be buckets for each item and you put your raffle tickets into the buckets of the items you want to win. You can put in as many tickets as you want.”
According to Mimm, the Mother’s Day Truck Convoy got its start because two Make-A-Wish kids simply wanted to ride in a truck and talk to each other on the CBs. During that ride, other truckers picked up the CB chatter, and decided that they would form up together as a convoy and talk with the kids over the CBs. Soon what began as a pair of trucks became a convoy of ten, and the experience was such a hit with the kids that it just grew from there. This year is the 24th Annual Mother’s Day Convoy, which is taking place on May 12, 2013.
For Mimm’s first convoy, he was paired up with a young boy who had experienced a tragic accident where he fell into a swimming pool, nearly drowned, and was resuscitated.
“When I saw this little boy in a wheelchair, with so many tubes in him, I thought to myself ‘How am I going to keep it together?’ But I did. That boy, his father, and I all got in the truck and took off. We took route 30 to the 222 Brownstown exit… …then to 272 at Ephrata and then back on to 222, to Burle Industries, and then we enjoyed the rest of the day there. It was an all-day event.”
In his time as a convoy participant, Mimm has taken five different kids for rides in his Bannon Metals truck. The last three years he has paired up with an eight-year-old Honey Brook boy named Carson Cutolo. Carson’s parents, Joe and Jill, met Mimm through the Lions Club. Mimm had approached the Cutolos about having Carson, who has the neuro-genetic disorder Angelman syndrome, participate in the convoy. Carson has been riding with Mimm for the last three convoys.
For Carson’s wish, Make-A-Wish sent the Cutolo family to Disney World in Florida in 2009. It was a trip that Joe Cutolo described as an “amazing experience”.
Make-A-Wish paid for the entire trip, including a stay at the Give Kids the Word (www.GKTW.org) community, a 70-acre resort which was built entirely by donations. The house which they stayed in was set up to replicate their home in Honey Brook in order to make Carson as comfortable as possible. They also provided the Cutolos with passes to Disney World, spending money, and a rental car. While at Disney, Carson was always ushered to the front of the line, was able to meet Mickey Mouse and participated in a Disney parade.
It very much was a wish and a dream come true for Carson, and in a sense, for Mimm as well.
“It is great to help people, to participate in the convoy and see the support from other people and the good it can do. You can raise money for different things, but when you see it first hand and you see those wonderful things all day long - the smiles on the kid’s faces and how it changes them (and) to know that you made that child happy, there’s nothing like it. We take a lot for granted, and when you experience that, well, it is a very good thing,” Mimm said.
“When Jim first told me about the convoy I didn’t believe until I saw it,” said Cutolo, “to see the turnout of the people cheering (the convoy) along from the sides of roads, the overpasses, the bridges, all of them making donations, it was unbelievable. Our family appreciates the amount of love and strength that everyone shows. The power of love is strong and when you see something like this – I just shows how wonderful people can be.”
Cutolo said that this year, there is no doubt who Carson will be riding with once all those trucks take off down the road again for 2013.
“Jim is a person who would give you the shirt of his back and we owe him a big ole thanks, and as long as we are a part of this Carson will be his sidekick.”
Mimm offered a huge thanks to Bannon Metals and other businesses and volunteers for being so generous over the years.
“I have been driving for Bannon Metals for 25 years and ever since I became involved with the convoy they have been very generous with donations. I also want to thank everyone who helps by volunteering their time, and those who have been so kind with the donations we have received. The support from the people and businesses in this community is just great.”
Any parties interested in offering raffle or other donations for Mimm’s Make-A-Wish fundraising can contact Jim at 610-698-0109 or Deb Elmer at 610-633-9590.
To find out more about the Make-A-Wish Mother’s Day Convoy, including registering as a driver, visit www.makeawishtruckconvoy.org.
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