As its membership continues to grow, Trucker Buddy International is seeking ways to broaden its mission of helping truck drivers serve as pen pals to elementary age schoolchildren.
“Applications from both truck drivers and elementary school teachers is rising dramatically – we have over 4,000 active members now,” Trucker Buddy executive director Ellen Voie told Fleet Owner. “Our goal now is to really grow the organization – to reach more schools, do more things for drivers participating in the program, and focus on fundraising to expand on what our drivers can do.”
Voie added that the group’s newly elected board is geared to do just that. Don Darden, manager of communications and advertising for Bridgestone/Firestone’s truck tire division, is the new president. Also on board are Bruce Smalley of Freightliner LLC, Midnite Trucker radio host Eric Harley, and elementary school teacher Mary Fox.
As an example of Trucker Buddy’s new efforts, Bridgestone/Firestone is sponsoring a visit by truck driver Jerry Collins to W.A. Bass Middle School in Nashville, TN, to meet with the 27 fifth graders of Carol Spears-Johnson’s class May 7 as part of the pen-pal relationship he’s nurtured with them since August 2003.
Collins will be joined by Bill Adams, captain of the American Trucking Associations America’s Road Team and on May 8, Spears-Johnson’s students will be judges in a semi-truck “beauty contest” at the Tennessee Truck Show. The event is hosted by Joey Holiday, trucking singer, songwriter and entertainer, and will also feature an auction to benefit Trucker Buddy International.
Started in 1992 by Gary King, a professional truck driver, Trucker Buddy helps educate schoolchildren by teaming professional truck drivers with children in grades 2-8 by means of pen-pal relationships. Each week school children communicate with their truck driver buddies, learning geography, mathematics, social studies, reading skills and history along the way.