82-year-old Margarette Kirsch of Merritt Island, Fla., knows how to stop traffic – literally.
At 11:30 a.m. on Monday, Kirsch pulled slowly out of the Dublin Star Diner in an 18-wheeler bound for the West Coast. The thunderous sound of cheers and applause from a crowd of more than 50 sent the sassy Kirsch on her inspirational 17-day adventure, made possible by the .
The Doylestown-based nonprofit, which grants wishes to low income seniors, worked for the past six months to meticulously plan Kirsch’s 5,505-mile cross-country journey.
This record-setting wish, number 1,590 for the 8-year-old Twilight Wish Foundation, has been dubbed “Truck Driving Mama,” the title of a song written by Kirsch’s driver, local trucker, Annabella Wood.
“I retired in 2006, but kept my license because you never know what might come along,” Wood said. “This is my ‘never know.’”
Before departing, Wood, who is a minister at Circle of Miracles church in Chalfont, sang Truck Driving Mama for attendees of a kick-off party and breakfast at the Dublin Star Diner, sponsored by Team Capital Bank.
“Did you really think I’m gonna settle down and leave the road?” she crooned, singing a lyric that pinpoints the personality of Kirsch, a go-getter who enjoys showing off the cherry tattoo on her left shoulder, refusing to let old age slow her down.
“I talk all the time and right now you’ve caught me speechless,” Kirsch said, to a room full of friends, sponsors and Twilight Wish volunteers, board members and wish recipients. “Sometimes you have to sail with the wind, and sometimes you have to sail against it. But you must always sail and never drift.”
Setting sail on the open road has been a lifelong dream of Kirsch’s – next to being a Las Vegas showgirl – and the trip will benefit hundreds more along the way.
The truck, wrapped in an eye-catching Twilight Wish banner, will drive through 27 states, to California and back to Florida to drop Kirsch off at home before returning to Pennsylvania.
The packed itinerary includes stops at two national Twilight Wish chapters and a host of nursing home facilities, deliveries to wish recipients in Pittsburgh and Denver, a magazine photo shoot, a concert in Wood’s former hometown of Hesperia, Calif., a visit to the National Senior Games in Houston – and of course, a night on the Las Vegas strip.
The kick-off party was a special event not only for Kirsch and Wood, but also for the Twilight Wish Foundation as a whole, which celebrates its eighth year of giving on July 1.
Cass Forkin, executive director and founder of Twilight Wish, reminisced about the day in 2003 when she sat at the same diner in Dublin and saw a group of elderly women struggling to pay for their meal. Forkin anonymously treated them to lunch, but the women insisted on knowing who paid.
“We didn’t know there were still people out there like you,” they offered, thankfully. “We thought you had forgotten us.”
Since then, and enrich the lives of deserving seniors by granting nearly 200 wishes a year.
Because “Truck Driving Mama" is the biggest wish to date, funding was slow to materialize.
“It’s like the Field of Dreams thing,” Forkin said. “Sometimes you build it, and then it comes.”
The trip was made a reality by the support of its many sponsors including CRST Logistics, Bidasano Technologies, CareMinders, Circle of Miracles, Coalition to Protect Senior Care, Cox & Company, Expos Events Etc., Global Tracking Communication, Memory Makers, National Association of Health Care Assistants, Patch Me Up Organics, PromotionUltraSource.com, Surrey Services for Seniors and TravelCenters of America.
After a song by Lisa Graham, a local singer/songwriter and supporter of Twilight Wish, the crowd moved outside to pack the truck and send Kirsch on her way with a poster signed by friends.
Riding shotgun in the 18-wheeler, Kirsch donned her sunglasses and smiled, waving goodbye. The truck turned onto Swamp Road, bound for the turnpike to the chanting sounds of “Twilight Wish! Twilight Wish!”
“If you didn’t believe in miracles before, after today you sure will,” Forkin said.
To learn more about the Twilight Wish Foundation and follow Margarette Kirsch on her trip, visit www.twilightwish.org.