LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Twelve years ago, a midnight visit to the emergency room was the beginning.
The end — at least for the most part — came here last April.
“Our daughter Amanda, who was 4 years old, got real sick one night and we rushed her to the hospital,” David Acosta recalled here during the Mid-America Trucking Show. “After running tests, the doctors found out her kidneys were bad and that she had nephritic syndrome. They told us there was no cure, but it was something they could treat. She’s on a lot of medication and will be for a lifetime.”
Amanda’s illness was the first event in a downward spiral that over the next 12 years that left Acosta, his wife Angela and other daughter dealing with the broken down trucks, mounting medical bills and the possible loss of the family home in Orlando, Fla.
The opportunity for a reversal in fortune came when Acosta was named winner of Arrow Truck Sales’ Back On The Road 2001 campaign.
During the awards presentation at MATS, Acosta received the keys to a 2007 Volvo VNL 780 he will drive for the next year as an independent contractor with Heartland Express, which each year awards a one-year contract to the winner.
The winner is chosen from nominations submitted by various trucking interests.
Acosta’s wife nominated him.
“Money is extremely tight and our family is struggling more than we ever thought imaginable,” she wrote. “We love him so much and as a family we couldn’t ask for anything better than this opportunity for David to get back on the road.”
An emotional Acosta choked back tears as he accepted the award, but finally he managed a big smile.
“Wow,” he said. “I am thankful to God for putting together this opportunity. This is truly a life changing opportunity for us. I hope to represent this award in an honorable fashion and in an upstanding manner.”
Acosta was working for a construction company when Amanda fell ill.
Part of his job there was driving a truck, and he fell in love with driving.
But when the owner of the company died, a daughter with others interests took over and eventually closed the firm.
The owner’s death was a personal loss.
“He liked me so much he threw a lot of responsibility at me,” Acosta recalled.
And he didn’t care about personal gain.
“I don’t care about getting all the notoriety,” Acosta said. “I just wanted to get the job done, whatever it may be. If someone wants to come in and take all the hoopla, be my guest.”
Without a job, Acosta turned to trucking.
He drove a while for Greatwide and had some five payments left on this truck when it broke down.
He’d even shared his truck, which had 850,000 miles, with a driver friend who’d lost his job.
He got another truck, but had the same result.
“Less than three months after I got the truck and with all the warranties gone, I blew the differential on it and was stuck out in Virginia,” Acosta recalled. “We had no money, me having gone from one situation to another.”
Relatives helped out, and Acosta said all those debts had now been paid.
“Some people didn’t think we’d pay them off, but we accept our responsibilities and see them through,” he said. “It may take us a while, but one thing that was taught to me by my grandparents was honesty and keeping your word. It you don’t have your word, you have nothing, I don’t care how rich you are.”
Since losing the second truck, Acosta has been driving for Crete Carrier Corp., but still wanted to be out on his own.
He now has that chance.
In addition to the one-year contract and tractor, Acosta will receive:
• X One XDA Energy tires from Michelin
• An auxiliary power unit courtesy of Thermo King
• Monthly $500 fuel cards thanks to Pilot Travel Centers
• Business consulting tools courtesy of ATBS
• Insurance provided by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA)
• A 3-year / 300,000-mile warranty from National Truck Protection, Inc.
• One year’s worth of filter products from Genuine Volvo Parts
• Custom truck paint job courtesy of Dickinson Fleet Services
• Truck accessories and fenders courtesy of Minimizer Products
• Memory foam mattress provided by SleepDog Mattress
• Truck paint provided by DuPont, and
• Personalized health and wellness coaching with Bob Perry, "Trucker Trainer."
Minimizer also presented Acosta with a check for $5,000 to defray current expenses.
As for Acosta, winning is like being a winner on a TV reality show.
“They try to do something good for some people,” he said. “Those people may not be what the world calls pretty. Arrow took someone who doesn’t look pretty and they are making me over. I’m going to be a true professional truck driver. Not just driving, but now I’ll know how to run the business. I have all the tools to be successful. There’s no way to fail.”
As for Amanda, she’s an active teenager now.
“Through the years her specialist hasn’t understood why she’s doing as well as she is, and Amanda said, ‘that’s my God for you.’”
He said “whatever it is, just keep on doing it.”
Lyndon Finney of The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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