18 wheels for Bubba: How a team of truck drivers worked to make a boy’s wish come true

Most days, you can catch Dakota Cadd outside of his home in Milton watching the trucks pass by.

The 16-year-old Milton native sits in the grass outside of his home near Highway 26, one of the busiest roads in his city, urging for the big rigs passing him by to lay on the horn.

“He loves trucks,” said Dakota’s mother, Peg.

But for the Cadd family, Dakota’s road has not always been easy.

The Cadds, who have spent decades fostering children, first met Dakota when he was in the hospital. They were given one day to decide whether or not they would take him home.

“He was an extremely sick baby,” Cadd said. “He was the sickest baby I’ve ever seen.”

As Dakota got older, his adoptive family tried everything they could to get him to gain weight, earning him the nickname Bubba.

18 wheels for Bubba: How a team of truck drivers worked to make a boy’s wish come true

“He’s a character. He’s a fighter. He never gives up,” Cadd said.

And as he grew both in age and in health, one thing never changed: Bubba’s love for trucks. And after years of sitting and waving, the trucks began to notice.

One day, a truck driver surprised the Cadds by throwing a surprise over the fence. Inside the bag, a hat, T-shirt and model truck.

18 wheels for Bubba: How a team of truck drivers worked to make a boy’s wish come true

“I picked up the bag, and the first thing I saw inside was a little truck. I thought, where did this come from?” said Cadd. “I said, ‘Hey Bubba, one of your truckers gave you a present!'”

Cadd posted the encounter on Facebook, and the post soon gathered thousands of shares, allowing drivers from across the country to be introduced to Bubba personally.

The drivers began to try and find a way they could do something more for Bubba, and the idea to throw a birthday party for Dakota was born.

“I thought it was going to be five trucks and a pack of brats,” said Jeremy Wallenkamp, truck driver and co-creator of 18 Wheels for Bubba.

But the idea quickly grew into a movement, with more than a thousand people registered online for the event.

Everyone was in on the surprise except Dakota.

On Saturday, hundreds of trucks and nearly a thousand people descended on Schilberg Park in Milton to celebrate Bubba’s 16th birthday, including the man who’s gift started the movement.

Originally wanting to keep a low profile, Mark King says it was personal experience that initially gravitated him towards Dakota.

“I grew up with a handicapped sister,” King said. “I knew what it was like and what families have to go through. I just think it’s left a personal spot in my heart.”

18 wheels for Bubba: How a team of truck drivers worked to make a boy’s wish come true