Organisers of the 2020 i98FM Illawarra Convoy have decided not to proceed with this year's truck and motorcycle convoy on November 15 but fundraising is still taking place to help local families in need.
COVID-19 restrictions are the reason the actual convoy from Appin to Albion Park and the free family fun day at Shellharbour Airport are not taking place for the first time in 16 years.
Convoy has raised over $16 million dollars since 2005. Illawarra Community Foundation chairman Andrew Lancaster said the difficult decision to cancel this year's event was made for safety reasons.
"In an effort to minimise the spread of COVID-19, we feel this is the most socially responsible decision for everyone involved," Mr Lancaster said.
"We know everyone looks forward to Convoy each year, but the current restrictions mean getting together in large numbers for events just isn't possible at the moment, and we join a long list of events that have had to change their approach this year."
Mr Lancaster said people were still being encouraged to fund-raise and celebrate Convoy this year with people close to them. The WIN Network and i98FM are planning a television special people can watch from home.
Convoy founder Marty Haynes said it would feature historical footage and stories from the families, charities and hospitals the community charity event had supported over the years.
Convoy manager Mark Rigby said fund-raising activities such as merchandise sales would still go ahead.
"Unfortunately though those patients affected by potentially life-threatening medical conditions that Convoy supports, don't get a year off because of COVID-19," Mr Rigby said.
"Their treatment still goes on, and the support we provide will not be affected by the decision to replace the physical event with the television event.
"For this reason we are pushing on with our fund-raising. We know many people and businesses have been affected by restrictions this year, and if all you can do this year is buy some Convoy merchandise, or make a small donation we totally understand that."
Rob Starcic said COVID-19 had already affected fund-raising activities but the Dandaloo Team was still doing everything it could to continue the great community spirit that was Convoy by raising as much money as possible for the foundation to help local people.
Mr Starcic said the annual cycling event was still being held this weekend with the riders taking donations online.
"One of the girls has already raised over $2000," he said.
Mr Starcic said it would feel strange on November 15 but Dandaloo Hotel would see how many people it could safely host on the day to raise more money while showing the television special on the big screens.
At this stage organisers of the other major annual community event at Shellharbour Airport are still proceeding with plans for Wings Over Illawarra on November 7 and 8.
Mark and Kerry Bright are still in discussions with NSW Health about their COVID safety plan and whether the event is still able go ahead.
"We are ticketed so that we can do contact tracing if necessary," she said.
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