More than 20 truck drivers gave up a rare day off Sunday to raise money for a 23-month-old toddler most of them have never met.
A convoy of semi trucks wound around Williston on Sunday, many carrying banners that read “Convoy for Mason.” The truck drivers were convoying to raise money for the family of 23-month-old Mason Paul-Evans.
Paul-Evans was seriously injured in January when he was beaten by his mother’s boyfriend in Great Falls, Mont. The child suffered a broken leg, bruises throughout his body and may have brain injuries. He was airlifted to a hospital in Seattle and has since been released to his father.
Riley James Charlo-Whitworth, 20, is facing charges of aggravated assault, criminal endangerment, tampering with physical evidence and assault on a minor. Charlo-Whitworth was watching Mason while the boy’s mother was at work and allegedly beat the child.
Alexis Paul, Mason’s mother, has been charged with criminal endangerment for failing get to medical care in a timely manner.
The convoy Sunday was the dream of Arnie Wilber, an independent truck driver working for Riedle Logistics.
“My son Brandon is really good friends with Dillon,” Wilber said. “Dillon is the father.”
Wilber said his heart broke when he hard about “Baby Mason,” and was determined to help.
“He threw him against the wall, broke his leg and bruised him from head to toe,” Wilber said.
Wilber said after he announced a week ago a convoy was going to be held to help Mason, the response has been wonderful.
He said the truck drivers who showed up Sunday morning did not know the boy, but they do know how to help.
“They’re all going to donate,” he said. “We’ve got companies showing up for this. I cannot thank these drivers, companies and trucks enough for showing up here for a little boy they don’t know.”
Jacob Hofer was one of the first truckers to arrive Sunday morning, but he said giving up his time off was nothing to help out a child.
“I think it’s awesome that someone like Arnie would do something for someone who is not even family,” Hofer said. “Arnie’s my friend, and I’d do this for any baby. It’s a sad thing anyone would do this.”
Harlon Johnson Jr. gave up truck driving a few years ago, choosing to work as a mechanic instead. But he got his hands on a truck Sunday to help out.
“I think this is awesome,” Johnson said. “I heard about it on the radio this week, and I immediately called my boss to see if I could do it.”
Jimmy King also brought his truck out, saying truckers helping others, especially children, is not uncommon.
“It happens all the time here,” he said. “Most of the time it doesn’t get in the paper.”