Atikokan, Ont., truckers unite to support colleague with 'Load for Toad'
Hundreds unite in support of Todd Zacharias, who's been diagnosed with cancer
When the friends and co-workers of Atikokan's Todd Zacharias heard the 30-year trucking veteran had been diagnosed with cancer, they knew they couldn't stand by and do nothing.
So they organized the Load for Toad, and fundraising and support event for Zacharias and his family, bringing together hundreds of Atikokan residents and truckers on Friday.
"In 15 years of driving truck, that was my proudest day," said Blake Goodwin, an Atikokan truck driver and one of the Load for Toad organizers.
"We just wanted to show our friend, our trucker, our brother, just some support," he said. "And that he has support. There's a trucker's code that you don't leave anybody behind, and we felt that he needed a little bit of our help and a little bit of love, and it turned out."
Goodwin has known Zacharias for about 25 years.
"All he wants to do is go to work and support his family, and that's what he did until he couldn't," Goodwin said. "He's one of the strongest guys I know."
"He's the guy that sort of picks everybody up when you're down."
At the Load for Toad, hundreds of Atikokan residents came together for a barbecue and auction, and made donations in support of Zacharias and his family.
There was also a truck convoy — it included truckers from as far away as Saskatchewan and Thunder Bay — with some truckers donating the money they made from an entire load to the cause, Goodwin said.
"It was wonderful," Goodwin said. "I can't explain it; there's no words for it."
"It was a community, and a community of truck drivers, that came together and made this happen."
A GoFundMe campaign has also been set up for Zacharias.
Goodwin said all money raised will go to support Zacharias and his family.