The 19th annual Rotary “Highway to Mexico” project will leave this year on Friday, March 20th, 2020 at 6:00 am from the Subway location at the Four Mile Corner in Grande Prairie (16102 102 St #101, Grande Prairie, AB T8X 0K7).
This year’s convoy consists of 1 Aerial Fire Truck, 1 Fire Pumper Truck, 4 Ambulances, 1 School Bus and 1 Handy-Bus. We will again travel 5,500 km through Canada, The United States and Mexico until we arrive in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico on Friday, March 27th. This year’s drivers are members of the Swan City Rotary Club, the Grande Prairie Rotary Club, the Fairview Rotary Club and the Edson Rotary Club.
These 8 vehicles will be added to the 105 vehicles delivered over the last 18 years to municipalities in the state of Sinaloa. The need continues and we look forward to deliver these trucks to places such as Mazatlan, La Cruz, Rosario and others. We are also very proud that two new fire stations will be started up due to our donations. Without our help, some communities use portable pumps for fire suppression, or patients are sent to hospitals on the back of a pick up truck.
The project started in 2002 when some Grande Prairie Visitors to Mazatlan met with Rotarians and realized there was a need for wheel chairs. When they got back to Grande Prairie they needed a means to transport these chairs and decided to buy a school bus. Allan Kuechle, a Swan City Rotary Past President, became the Champion of this project and was the first driver on the Highway to Mexico.
The project expanded from there. Our friends in Mazatlan, led by Pepesan Sanchez, had needs for fire trucks, ambulances and as many buses as we could get. In the last 18 years we donated 105 vehicles, with 2019 as the year where we delivered vehicle #100 and many more. Our project has touched thousands of people in Mazatlan and the state of Sinaloa. Our ambulances are dispatched daily to transport patients and our fire trucks are stationed in three stations in Mazatlan and many other fire departments. We bring donated fire gear, equipment, wheel chairs and many other supplies with us on the way and equip the fire fighters with gear that they could never get otherwise. The school buses go to orphanages, museums and not for profit organizations to be able to transport their charges wherever they need to go. Many of the buses we bring have wheel chair ramps and allow people to get to places they could never get to otherwise.
The drive takes us through Alberta, Montana, Idaho, Utah into Arizona and we cross the border at Nogales. From there we drive through the states of Sonora and Sinaloa to Mazatlan. The drive is just under 5,500 km and takes a week. We then spend a week in Mazatlan and surrounding places to deliver the vehicles and enjoy the hospitality.
Our project is funded through our individual Rotary Clubs but we also depend on the generosity of many partners and sponsors. Many of our vehicles are donated to us through municipalities and our gear comes from both municipal and private sources. As an example last year we brought over $300,000 worth of bunker gear, radios and other equipment.
The project takes up hundreds of hours of volunteer time and just the paperwork is incredible. The project was run by Allan Kuechle for many years until 6 years ago when Rick Conrad and Felix Seiler took over the reins. We source the vehicles, do the paperwork, herd all the drivers and drive every year. It is extremely rewarding to see the impact we made and keep in contact with all the friends we met.
For more information please call Felix Seiler at 780-830-6518 or email at [email protected]
Rick Conrad and Felix Seiler
Highway to Mexico Coordinators