ZEARING, Iowa — Shelby Perisho set out to do what everyone told her she couldn’t do: Drive a big rig to her junior prom.
It started out as a casual conversation at school. Both Perisho and Stone Gibbs, who would be her future prom date, have a family history of trucking. While talking about trucking with her and Gibbs’ friends, 17-year-old Perisho wondered out loud, “What if I drove?”
Gibbs was all for it. Everyone else? Not so much.
“What, are you serious?” they asked her. “You’re joking, right?”
Perisho was not joking. Raised on a farm, hard work and dedication are in her roots. She isn’t one to back down from a challenge — and certainly not from a challenge that could prove her classmates wrong. She had driven a manual pickup truck before, so she figured a big rig wouldn’t be too much different — just maybe more buttons and gears.
Perisho planned it all out: She would learn how to drive the truck with Gibbs, who learned how to drive from his father.
“It was the night before (prom), actually, that I learned how to drive it,” Perisho laughed. “We drove around on the gravel roads for about two hours.”
Gibbs wanted her to drive his cousin’s truck; the same truck he learned how to drive in.
“I was kind of doubting myself, but Stone was like, ‘No, you’re going to be fine,’” she said.
And she was fine.
“That went a lot better than I expected it to,” Gibbs told her after they practiced together.
She drove roughly 2 miles of dirt backroads to get to prom. When she pulled up in a 1994 Kenworth T600, she said everyone’s reaction was a mixture of shock and smiles.
“‘There’s this girl driving this truck! Who is that?’” her classmates cried, Perisho said. “All of my family was standing there shouting, ‘It’s Shelby!’”
Perisho’s grandmother, Laura Perisho, shared the story with the news station KCCI.
“It was fun hearing the comments from the crowd, ‘That’s a girl driving that semi; that’s awesome!’” Laura shared.
Gibbs’ friends said they didn’t think he would let Shelby drive the rig — although she says Gibbs’ permission would not have stood in her way.
Trucking and farming has its own influence in her life. Shelby’s uncle, Blake Perisho, has his own business hauling hogs. The business was passed down from her grandfather, Jeff Perisho.
Shelby said the majority of her life has been spent as a “farm girl,” keeping up with cattle, horses, goats, chickens, dogs and cats. She relishes the experience with animals, and wants to continue it once she finishes high school. Her plan is to attend to Ellsworth Community College where she will study animal science. Eventually, she hopes to become an animal chiropractor.
“She is our adventurous one. She sets her goals and goes after them with so much determination. We are very proud of Shelby,” Laura said.
In the meantime, Shelby plans to “keep on trucking” on at her local vet clinic, proving her friends — and the rest of the world — wrong.
Hannah Butler is a lover of interesting people, places, photos and the written word. Butler is a former community newspaper reporter and editor for Arkansas Tech University’s student newspaper. Butler is currently finishing up her undergraduate print journalism degree and hopes to pursue higher education. Her work has been featured in at least nine different publications.