Sign for Association of Christian Truckers

‘Home on the road’: Association of Christian Truckers offers services, free parking to drivers

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BROWNSTOWN, Ill. — According to Mark Hewett, you can’t be a man’s counselor until you become his friend. That is the main goal for the Association of Christian Truckers, a group in which Hewett serves as a minister. The nonprofit organization was formed in 1976 to serve as a ministry to truck drivers. “Throughout the years things have changed a little bit, but our ministry mostly consists of drivers coming off the freeway for free laundry, free parking, free snacks or coffee,” Hewett said. “Whatever we can do to help the drivers. We don’t push the Bible on them.” Hewett, who...
Carla Brown in front of her bright green truck

Hakuna matata: U.S. Army veteran, owner-operator has ‘no worries’ attitude, dedicates her truck to...

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When a graphic artist decides to buy her own tractor, you’d expect the paint job to be interesting. That’s certainly true of Carla Brown’s lime green 2019 Freightliner Cascadia. She designed the graphics herself including the ladybug motif down the center of the hood. “My truck is dedicated to my sister; she loved lady bugs,” Brown told The Trucker. “She was a truck driver, too.” Tragically, Brown’s sister, Carolyn, lost her life when she was struck by a pickup truck while spotting for another truck driver. Carolyn’s photograph is a part of the design, prominently displayed on the side of Brown’s...
waitress honored for saving trucker's life

‘She saved my life’: Tennessee waitress wakes truck driver in burning truck

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LEBANON, Tenn. — A series of coincidences led to a miraculous save for Phyllis Banfield, a waitress at Uncle Pete’s Travel Center on Sparta Pike in Lebanon, Tennessee. One April morning this year, Banfield left her house earlier than usual for her shift at Uncle Pete’s and parked in a spot that wasn’t her usual spot. If she had parked where she normally did, she said, she might not have seen the fire across the road. “I wouldn’t have seen all those people. I might have seen the fire, but I don’t know what I would have done,” she said. “I...
Bob Perry Pushup

Espyr launches ‘Fittest Driver’ strength competition for pro drivers

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ATLANTA — Espyr’s Fit to Pass, a customized coaching program designed to improve the health of professional drivers and help them meet the physical requirements of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) recertification exam, has announced a six-week Fittest Driver contest. The competition, which begins Aug. 3 and ends Sept. 12, is designed to test the strength and conditioning of drivers and help get them on the road to better health. There is no cost or purchase required to enter the contest. During the virtual online event, drivers will compete by performing as many push-ups as they can in one uninterrupted...
Flamingo Casino

REAL Women in Trucking names 2020 Queens of the Road, Trucking Industry Trailblazers

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LAKE WORTH, Fla. — REAL Women in Trucking Inc. (RWIT) has named Kristy Mathews, Edwina Webb and Vonnie Whitemagie as the recipients of the association’s fourth annual Queen of the Road Awards. Formed in 2010, RWIT promotes safety by educating the public about unsafe truck driver training and has created a network of support for women entering trucking. The organization’s mission is to deliver highway safety through leadership, mentorship, education and advocacy. “This is my dream, and I’ll do whatever it takes to succeed and thrive in this male-dominated career,” Mathews said. “The Queen of the Road award means so much...
Best of Show 2020 winner

Iowa 80 truck stop announces pet, truck beauty contest winners from first-ever virtual Truckers...

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WALCOTT, Iowa — Like many other truck shows and events since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Iowa 80 truck stop’s 2020 Walcott Truckers Jamboree moved to an online format this year to comply with social-distancing guidelines. The virtual event kicked off Thursday, July 9, and continued through Saturday, July 11. “Participation for our online events was larger than we could have imagined,” Heather DeBaillie, vice president of marketing, told The Trucker. “Thank you, drivers! We look forward to seeing everyone in person at next year’s Walcott Truckers Jamboree, July 8-10, 2021.” During the jamboree, participants had the opportunity to...
Dart truck

Dart Transit Company names 2019 Driver/Contractor of the Year winners

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EAGAN, Minn. — Dart Transit Company has awarded four fleet members with its 2019 Drivers and Owner Operators of the Year honors for 2019. President and CEO, Dave Ables, called each winner to inform and congratulate them on their accomplishment. John Neely was selected as the Network Company Driver of the Year. John is from Arlington, Texas and has been with Dart for four years. “John has been a pleasure to work with. He does whatever he can to help Dart. He is truly a professional,” said Neely’s Fleet Manager, Brian Munson. Anthony Thomas was selected as the Network Owner Operator...
TJ and his family

Family tradition: TJ Kounkel is a third-generation trucker with award-winning Peterbilt

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MERRILL, Iowa — Farming and trucking are two professions that often run in families. TJ Kounkel’s family has a tradition of both. In addition to farming 2,000 acres of corn and soybeans in northwest Iowa, his family operates a livestock-hauling business. Driving farm equipment and even trucks on the farm were just part of growing up for Kounkel. “I started driving at 18, driving intrastate. I know every road in Iowa,” he told The Trucker, adding that talking about himself isn’t easy for him. “I’m kind of boring,” he said. “When I’m not trucking, I stay busy with the farm. There’s always...
Karen and Richard Black

Team-driving duo among drivers recognized by U.S. Xpress for their above-and-beyond dedication

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Chattanooga-based trucking company, U.S. Xpress, honored 10 of its drivers for above-and-beyond achievements at a virtual ceremony in June. The annual awards event for drivers and their families recognizes drivers for outstanding achievements in safety and leadership. This year’s honorees were recognized for a breadth of achievements, from safely completing millions of miles to earning special praise from customers. Husband-and-wife team-driving duo Karen and Richard Black of Orange Park, Florida, were named U.S. Xpress’ “Dedicated Team Drivers of the Year.” Karen and Richard have been together for almost nine years and have been driving together for five. Richard...
Darrell Lily and Graig

More than just trucking: Brown Dog Carriers works to improve community, help others

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BIDDEFORD, Maine — It’s immediately obvious that Brown Dog Carriers and Logistics is a trucking company unlike any other. Does any other motor carrier have a mission to “Create a world where we whine less and wag more”? Or have an official “chief canine officer” on staff? Founded in 2017 by Graig Morin, company president, and Darrell Pardy, director of finance and business development, Brown Dog’s name honors Lily Rae Morin, a chocolate Labrador Retriever adopted by Morin’s wife, Christine, back in 2009. Lily, obviously, serves as the company’s chief canine officer, and has logged more than 500,000 miles riding...
Kathy Wolter

After their kids left home, Kathy Wolter and her husband Jeff hit the road...

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Making the change from being a full-time mom and dealing with an empty nest is never easy. Luckily for Kathy Wolter and her husband, Jeff, the two have found a shared passion to pursue. “Our adventure of raising kids was over. They left us with an empty nest, and it made us realize that an opportunity and a desire arose for a new adventure,” said Kathy, adding that the couple has now been in the trucking industry more than 10 years. “We both realized, we had a desire for something else — something more exciting,” she continued. “We just started thinking,...
julie mills june mom

Julie Mills achieves success with safety and education skills

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If life had turned out differently, Julie Mills might be happily teaching third graders in Cumberland County, New Jersey. As many truck drivers can attest, however, our lives don’t always follow the path we plan. Mills is still using the knowledge and skills she acquired while studying for a teaching career, but instead of teaching school, she’s using those skills to keep drivers safe. Mills serves as the director of safety at Camden, New Jersey-based NFI Transportation. She’s also Women in Trucking’s June Member of the Month. Mills came to trucking like many others do. She graduated with a Master of...
David McKinney's truck, Part Time

At the Truck Stop: Quality, integrity are bywords of McKinney family’s 14-truck business

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LEXINGTON, Ala. — David McKinney’s 2016 Peterbilt Pride and Class 389, affectionately named “Part Time,” was a white Fitzgerald Glider kit when purchased. “It looked like a company truck,” McKinney said, “but we’ve completely redone it. He added accent stripes and accents inside and out and teamed the tractor with a Reitnouer “Big Bubba” aluminum trailer with matching accents. Choosing Peterbilt was easy for McKinney. “I have driven Peterbilts since I was 21,” he said, “but this was my first brand-new truck.” Getting into trucking was an easy choice, too. “In the area where I live, if you didn’t know somebody,...
Robert Morris and his autism truck, Fiona

One puzzle piece at a time: Robert Morris and ‘Fiona’ increase autism awareness with...

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VILLA RICA, Ga. — Robert Morris has a lot of women in his life. “I live with seven females,” he said. “There’s my wife, twin daughters Amber and Summer (19), and three other daughters, Hayley (15), Emily (13), Caydence (7) — plus the dog.” Then there’s “Fiona,” the 2018 Peterbilt Morris drives for CDJ Bulk Express, based in West Columbia, South Carolina. As for Morris, a lot of years passed between the first time he took the wheel of a tractor-trailer and Fiona’s arrival. Growing up below the wheel “I’m a 16-year driver with 38 years of experience,” Morris said with a laugh. Like several...

Pilot Flying J’s annual Road Warrior contest for professional drivers returns with weekly sweepstakes...

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Pilot Flying J has announced the kickoff of its seventh annual Road Warrior contest to recognize professional truck drivers for their dedication to keeping our country going. From June 22 through July 20, 2020, anyone can nominate a professional driver into the Road Warrior contest for the chance to be named the 2020 Road Warrior and receive the grand prize of $10,000. New this year, Pilot Flying J is also introducing a weekly sweepstakes to the program and will randomly select 100 professional driver entries each week during the nomination period — a total of 400 winners throughout the contest — to win 5,000 myRewards loyalty points, a $50 in-store value. “Professional drivers brave the roads each and every day...
Al Aukema proposed to Amanda Valleroy

Couple shares story of finding love for each other and truck driving

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SPARTA, Ill. — When Amanda Valleroy, of Sparta, Illinois, was enrolled at the 160 Driving Academy in Belleville, Illinois, one of her driving instructors was Matt Craft. While she was attending the school, she discovered Craft was also a minister who pastors the Nashville First Assembly of God church in Nashville, Illinois. “I went there a couple of times, but I didn’t regularly attend,” Valleroy said, adding that her fiancé later attended the same driving school. “Now, Matt is going to be the minster that is going to marry us. It is an interesting twist for sure.” Valleroy and her fiancé,...
Ed and Tracy Zimmerman

‘An amazing moment in time’: Team drivers rescue motorist from burning car in 36...

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Most truck drivers spend the better part of the year over the road. In the overall calculations of the total minutes on the road, 36 minutes doesn’t seem very significant. For Hirschbach Motor Lines, Inc., drivers Ed and Tracy Zimmerman — and one very lucky motorist — on a late spring morning along a West Virginia interstate, it only took 36 minutes for several lives to be changed and one to be saved. The Zimmermans, a driver team and married couple from Kenesaw, Nebraska, wouldn’t normally have been in West Virginia that day in May 2019, the couple said, noting that...
Don Lewis

Career for a lifetime: Veteran driver Don Lewis discovered love of trucking at early...

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As a boy growing up on a small family farm outside Neosho, Missouri, in the 1960s, Don Lewis was no stranger to trucks and heavy machinery; hauling hay was all in a day’s work, and driving a truck was not considered an “adventure.” That all changed when, as a teenager, Lewis struck up a friendship with a neighbor — who just happened to be a truck driver. “He had a Peterbilt, and it was big and shiny red,” remembers Lewis, now 70. “If he was home on the weekends, after I finished my chores, I’d go down there and help him...
May OO

‘The truck comes first’: Kevin Kocmich finds success through tedious planning

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Kevin Kocmich and his wife, Joy, might take a vacation. With a $25,000 check in his pocket, the two could afford a little time off. But like many other self-employment opportunities, working as an owner-operator means running a small business — and the business’s finances and stability come first. “We want to make a trip to Alaska,” said Kevin, noting that he and his wife have driven there in the truck for work. “Joy wants to make a trip up there for a vacation. That might be in the plan for next year. It won’t be this year, but I...