In a span of a few hours, Ohio motorcoach operators delivered more than 2,000 bags of chips, 4,000 bottles of water and 900 pizzas to first responders as a thank you.
“We go into cities and big events and they help us out so we thought it was good that we helped them out,” said Doug Wright, with D&L Charters in Canton, Ohio.
The statewide coordinated outreach was the work of the Ohio Bus Association, and involved Buddy Bolog, and his son, Ben, of U.S. Coach Alliance in Alliance, Ohio; Roy Alonso with Cardinal Transportation in Columbus; Mike Middaugh with Coach Quarters in Columbus; John Croswell from Croswell Bus Line in Cincinnati; Randy Smith of Best Bus: and Tom Goebel of Barons Bus in Cleveland.
OBA is the same group whose idea to take their messages to Washington, D.C., evolved into the May 13 rally that drew buses from every state to raise awareness about the industry’s moving millions of Americans every year.
Deliveries in five cities
The “thank you” idea hatched May 30 morning was executed that evening, with motorcoaches delivering pizza, bottled water and chips to first responders in five Ohio cities: Cleveland, Cincinnati, Akron, Canton and Columbus.
Wright came up with the idea the night before, when he and his wife were in downtown Canton.
“I see the guys out there working,” said Wright, who decided to buy pizzas and drop them off at the police department. “They were all smiles.”
The next day, a Saturday, he suggested the OMA try the idea in more cities. They didn’t think there was enough time to organize across the country, but they were happy when they heard their efforts inspired a similar outreach in St. Paul, Minnesota.
With the exception of the water bottles donated by Sam’s Club, the Ohio motorcoach operators all chipped in to cover the costs of the food.
Organized in March
The Ohio association formed in March, when a group of operators — worried that the mass COVID-19 shutdowns would drive them out of business — came together. Ben Bolog, a fifth-generation owner of U.S Coach Alliance, was selected as president. Wright is a board member.
The Motorcoaches Rolling for Awareness continues to live beyond the May 13 rally. The group decided to follow up the national event with similar rolling rallies in all of the state capitals. Initially planned for June 3, they were postponed until June 17 because protests were taking place in state capitals.
Bolog feels a personal connection to first responders. His younger brother Brad is an officer with the Columbus Police Department and an Ohio National Guardsman.
The motorcoach industry often works closely with first responders, whether providing essential transportation during a natural disaster or shuttling passengers to major events. Police across the country stepped up to show support for operators as they made their way to the D.C. rally, often providing escorts.
Bolog says providing meals for more than 3,600 police, fire and EMTs as they continue to work long hours protecting small businesses during the protests provided a meaningful way to show gratitude to these first responders.
“We were honored to have the opportunity to support our local emergency response teams during this stressful time,” Bolog said.