Woman, 82, Traveling the Country in a Big Rig for Charity

Article excerpt

At age 82, there's not a lot Margarette Kirsch hasn't done.

She's worked for American Airlines, taught fourth grade and grown tobacco and cotton on a farm.

She rides a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and drives a navy blue Chevrolet Camaro with neon purple and green trim. She exercises 2 1/ 2 hours a day and took up skateboarding five years ago.

But Kirsch has always dreamed of working as a Las Vegas showgirl and driving a tractor-trailer cross-country.

After nearly four years of planning, Kirsch, who lives in Merritt Island, Fla., set off on an adventure Monday that will fulfill that second dream, thanks to the Twilight Wish Foundation, a nonprofit based in Bucks County that grants wishes to senior citizens.

"I had to wait and get old and here I stand, enjoying it -- every minute of it," Kirsch said Tuesday as she stood outside the tractor- trailer parked at the Baldock Health Care Centre in North Huntingdon, a stop on her 15-day tour of the country.

Along the way, Kirsch and driver Annabella Wood are raising money for and awareness of the foundation that has granted nearly 1,600 wishes to seniors across the country who have never had the time, finances or ability to fulfill them.

Kirsch read about the Twilight Foundation in a newspaper and checked it out. The group pursued her first wish -- to be a Las Vegas showgirl -- but couldn't get a club to go along with it.

So they detoured to Kirsch's second wish -- to drive cross- country in an 18-wheeler.

In her mid-20s, Kirsch thought it would be fun to work as a long- haul trucker. She loved the big, colorful trucks and thought traveling the country while making money would be a great job.

It took nearly four years to bring the wish to fruition. Things sped up significantly when the Twilight Wish Foundation found Wood. She's a retired truck driver living in Blue Bell, Montgomery County, as well as a songwriter and musician who calls herself the "Truck Driving Mama."

"I thought it would be wonderful to get back out and do a joyride," said Wood, who will celebrate her 52nd birthday on the trip. "This is a 7,000-mile joyride for me. …