Editor's note: This article was first published in the June 15-30 issue of The Trucker newspaper on stands now.
If you wanted to get the word out about early detection of breast cancer, how would you go about it?
If you were Joe Mazzaferro, you’d use a truck. Mazzaferro is operations manager for Diamond Truck Lines LLC, a family- and woman-owned trucking company (owners are mother Ardin Bainbridge and daughters Robin Mazzaferro and Lisa Scully).
Joe Mazzaferro had watched his mother, Ida, struggle through breast cancer. Fortunately, Ida is now cancer-free.
When he found out about the group, Beyond Boobs!, which seeks to educate women and their friends and family members about the importance of early detection — i.e. yearly mammograms and self examination — and support young women diagnosed with breast cancer, he went to talk with the organization’s co-founder, Mary Beth Gibson.
“When I found Beyond Boobs!, I realized that I could relate to them” and their message, Joe Mazzaferro said.
His idea was to promote their message on a truck, which was later supplied by Reid Farmer at Peterbilt of Richmond, Va.
Sporting decorations donated by JRC Transportation and proclaiming “Real Trucks Wear Pink,” the iconic, black-and-pink Ma’am O’Gram truck was born.
Trucker Charlie Nowicki’s aunt had undergone a double mastectomy because of breast cancer and he lost his sister to lupus last year, so he knew a little bit about the need for early disease detection.
So when Joe Mazzaferro asked Nowicki if he’d be interested in driving the pinked-out Peterbilt, he jumped at the chance.
“When Joe asked me if I was interested in driving Ma’am O’Gram, I instantly said yes. I have been waiting for the chance to do something like this to help others,” Nowicki said.
To track Ma’am O’ Gram’s travels, Nowicki made a Facebook page for the truck, affectionately called Ma’am, where “she” updates fans on her adventures and gives friends daily doses of her positive energy and encouragement, according to a Beyond Boobs! news release. Ma’am O’Gram’s first trip was from Virginia Beach to Hollywood, Calif., and she will be making her first local guest appearance at Hoss’s Deli in Newport News, Va., at the 11th Old Dudes Motorcycle Poker Run and Auction after-party Saturday, June 16 after 3 p.m.
“Miss Ma’am O’Gram is getting the message out in a new and unusual way,” said Vicki Vawter, events and marketing manager with the Willaimsburg, Va.-based Beyond Boobs! organization. And, she said, it’s not only women who need to make the call to set up a mammogram. Men, too, have a voice in urging their mothers, sisters, daughters and other significant females in their lives to get mammograms. Plus, “there’s literature for men to pass out,” she added.
“Ma’am is a working truck,” said Joe Mazzaferro, “and she has a job to do. Our trucks travel all 48 states and by the end of the year I am sure that she will have been in every single one of them.”
“Ma’am O’Gram is out there to spread the message of early detection and how it saves lives,” Robin Mazzaferro said. “Even if she gets one person to check themselves for breast cancer, then she has served her purpose.”
Or, as Beyond Boobs! says, “Keep ‘Em for the long haul — early detection saves lives.”
For more information, visit the Beyond Boobs! website at beyondboobs.org. Or call (757) 645-2649. To follow Ma’am O’Gram’s travels, “Like” her Facebook page.
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