History and Leadership
In November, 1992, a professional truck driver, Gary King, contacted a grade school in Williams Bay, WI and asked the principal for permission to write to a class of students as "pen-pals." One fourth grade teacher quickly agreed, and King began writing postcards and short letters every week. The students eagerly wrote back and asked him questions about driving and the sights he saw. The teacher quickly recognized the value of the letters in stimulating the children's interest in reading, writing and other subjects, and integrated them into her teaching routine. When other drivers saw King writing his postcards and letters at the many truckstops he visited across the country, they, too, became interested in the program and wanted their own pen-pals.
The Trucker Buddy program became incorporated on July 1, 1992. Within the first year of operation, Trucker Buddy grew to almost 1,000 driver-teacher matches. Now the program has over 2,000 matches and almost 60,000 students per year. The Board of Directors was expanded to include active drivers and one teacher. Screening and back ground checks were added to ensure the safety of the children. These are performed on each new and renewed driver. Even the Board of Directors must pass the same test. Trucker Buddies enrich the lives of tens of thousands of school children and places a face behind the steering wheel of trucks across the country.
"Trucker Buddy's grass roots efforts benefits everyone in the trucking industry. Fleets, OEMs, suppliers and drivers benefit from the efforts of our volunteers by daily providing the public with what is good and great about our industry. I had a parent call me and ask about Trucker Buddy and he said when he heard his child was part of a program with a truck driver he had reservations. He agreed those reservations are unfounded but the perception is that when you deal with truck drivers there is an automatic bias that come up. Once he understood the program and the enhanced lessons that the teacher was using he became a fan. No other program does this every day, every week, every month and every year like Trucker Buddy and everyone in the industry benefits from the program and the effort of professional drivers across the contry." - Randy Schwartzenburg Executive Director