Trucker Buddy International announced that Rita Woodley and her class from Cotton Belt Elementary School in York, South Carolina, have nominated their industry pen pal Gary Killian for the Outstanding Trucker Buddy award. Killian, who drives for Cargo Transporters, based in Claremont, North Carolina, has volunteered to be a Trucker Buddy for the past two school years.
“He has sent us numerous letters that include personal experiences, miles he has traveled, advice for students, pictures and postcards,” Woodley said. “He writes to us almost weekly about his different adventures.”
Trucker Buddy International, an independent, non-profit 501(c) (3) organization, will announce the Outstanding Trucker Buddy awards on March 24, 2017, at the Mid-America Truck Show as well as on Facebook and Twitter. The award is sponsored by Meritor, Inc., Freightliner, Detroit and Progressive Insurance.
Trucker Buddy introduces the trucking industry to schoolchildren and educators, helping them see the world through the eyes of a professional truck driver. Trucker Buddies mentor schoolchildren through pen pal relationships between professional screened truck drivers and students in grades K – 8, who are supervised by their teachers. The organization and one of its key corporate sponsors, Meritor, Inc., a Troy, Michigan-based global supplier of drivetrain, mobility, braking and aftermarket solutions for commercial vehicle and industrial markets, believe the Trucker Buddy program makes an important impact on communities.
“The program teaches children the benefits of the industry, and truckers encourage them to excel in school,” said Randy Schwartzenburg, Executive Director, Trucker Buddy. “The association of Ms. Woodley’s classroom and Gary Killian was made possible due to the efforts of Meritor, which has a plant in the area and asked the school to be part of our program.”
Krista Sohm, Vice President, Marketing & Communications for Meritor, added, “Trucker Buddies like Gary Killian who haul goods and materials nationwide make a daily impact not only on our economy, but also in classrooms across the United States. They become teaching aides who reinforce each participating school’s curriculum in a variety of subjects.”
After an extensive screening process, the professional truck drivers are matched with a class and are directed by a teacher. Drivers share news about their travels with their assigned class while students write letters and send pictures to their classroom driver. Students’ skills in reading, writing, geography, mathematics, social studies and history are enhanced and learning is made fun.
“Gary uses a variety of sentence structures and writes in a great voice with lots of good details,” Woodley said. “Gary’s weekly letters keep the students engaged. They’re motivated to write and beg for me to let them send a note back to him.”
Since 1992, Trucker Buddy International has helped educate more than 1 million schoolchildren and introduced them to the caring, compassionate men and women who are professional truck drivers, according to Schwartzenburg. He credits the program’s ongoing success to driver volunteers, participating teachers and the contributions of sponsors. There is no cost to the drivers or teachers to participate in the program.