2021 National Truck Driver Appreciation Week
National Truck Driver Appreciation Week is an important time for America to pay respect and thank all the professional truck drivers for their hard work and commitment in undertaking one of our economy’s most demanding and important jobs. These 3.5 million professional men and women not only deliver our goods safely, securely, and on time, they also keep our highways safe.
Our National Truck Driver Appreciation Week Sponsors
As the #1 truck insurer in the country, Progressive is proud to support St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund and truckers everywhere that work hard behind the scenes to keep things moving. Thank you for all that you do.
Brenny has partnered with SCF, because truck drivers are our heart! It’s not about the money for SCF, it’s about the professional truck driver! It’s about a life! It’s about helping one driver at a time, live longer!
At Christenson Transportation “Where the Truckers Truck” we know what sacrifices Drivers make for all of us by staying out on the road making sure our essentials make it to the destinations safely.
With all the amazing resources and assistance SCF has to offer Drivers it’s a win win to support them since their sole purpose is also ours.
One week a year is never enough time to thank all the drivers for all that they do so we hope our contributions to SCF will help to show our appreciation.
Calhoun Truck Lines proudly supports St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund and the work they do to assist Truck Drivers when illness or injury strikes. Truck Drivers continue to be a part of the essential workforce that moves America and are not immune to the unexpected challenges and the collateral struggles that follow. We value the tremendous work and value that SFC brings to deserving professional drivers, will continue to support their efforts, and would challenge all members of the transportation industry to do the same.
“A trucker’s love for the road and industry is truly unmatched, as should our dedication to ensuring they feel safe and supported while out on the road. Old World Industries, LLC, the manufacturer of BlueDEF®, America’s #1 DEF brand, is proud to work with the St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund (SCF). During National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, we want to not only thank our truck drivers for their hard work and commitment in tackling one of our economy’s most demanding and important jobs, but also remind them to pop under the hood to make sure everything is in order so they can stay safe on the road. While we at OWI appreciate our dedicated drivers every day, this week is a time we should all reflect and appreciate what they do, because without them, America stops.”
Brenny Transportation Drivers
Bob Murphy has been an influential part of the Brenny Specialized Professional Driving team since 2008. His trucking career started in 1986. Bob’s driving record is something to be proud of. He has driven over 3.5 million accident free miles. Bob’s attitude is so prominent that his fellow team nominated and awarded Bob with a prestigious honor to represent Brenny on our billboard in 2017 for National Truck Driver Appreciation week, and he was on the Brenny Team Advisory council for 2017 (this council helping make major company decisions, the decisions always go thru this council)
Bob’s attitude is that of a true professional. He is patient, reliable, and maintains his positive attitude even when the situation isn’t ideal. Bob is the type of guy that you become instant friends with. He is an all around great guy! Some of the words that came up when we asked the team to describe Bob were: safety conscious, humble, gracious, willing to go extra mile, grand champion of customer service, professional, top notch.
We have a story that we will share that makes him our hometown hero. In May of 2000 Bob had just returned back to the yard, and decided to run to his local bank. During that trip to the bank, there was an am armed robbery. Bob followed the armed robber out of the bank, called the police and followed the vehicle all while the robber was shooting back at him. The robber did shoot Bob in the arm, however Bob was still able to block him off until the police arrived. Bob was given a Citizens Commendation by the St Cloud, MN Police Department for outstanding citizenship, courage, and tenacity resulting in the capture and arrest of the bank robber. In any situation Bob is in, he is willing to put others first and go the extra mile no matter the cost.
Bob is a proud father to his son, who is in law enforcement. Bob has a great appreciation for the folks in law enforcement and understands and accepts regulations and change in the trucking industry. With the knowledge of regulation and conversations he has with his son, he is able to put this to work when he is behind the wheel.
Bob excels as a safe driver, his driving record is exceptional. Bob participates in all company safety events and is willing to teach and mentor new team members.
Bob truly deserves a pat on the back for all he does to help others which brings us to another story. Back in what Bob calls the “Old Days” he came upon a big truck vs. 4 wheeler crash in NE where his instincts took over. He was able to offer assistance to the injured 4 wheeler until rescues arrived. The rescue left Bob in the vehicle where he was offering medical help. The rescue team cut the car away from the injured person and Bob was to keep the person alive. Had they removed Bob from the scene, that person would not be alive today!
Bob is just an all around driven to serve kind of guy. If you need help Bob will always be there. Bob has had many awards, and he takes pride in them all.
- He was Driver of the Year in 1991 at Lakes State Transportation
- Outstanding Contribution to Street and Highway safety in 1997 from Northland Insurance Companies
- Best of the Best in 2002 by DiamlerChrystler
- Safe Driver of the Quarter 2013 at Brenny Specialized Inc
- Team Advisory Council 2017 at Brenny Specialized Inc
- NASTC Driver of the Year 2017
- MTA Driver of the Month November 2017
GERALD “RED” POPP
Gerald “Red” Popp is one of the most passionate people you will ever meet when talking about the trucking industry. He has been in the industry since 1978. He grew up on a farm that raised 50,000 chickens, 300 hogs, milked cows and tilled 1000 acres. Back in those days Red was busy on the farm and loved that until one day, his friend became ill and asked Red to help him deliver a load. Red was eager to help, comfortable driving equipment so he jumped in his friends old Freightliner cabover to help. Before starting the 200-mile trip, his friend assured him he would explain to Red what to do…….10 miles later that friend was too sick to stay awake. Red was determined not to let that friend down, or let the load be late. He delivered the load without incident! That was the day back in 1978 Gerald “Red” Popp fell in love with trucking and the open road. He has not looked back since. He went to work for a trucking company in 1978 hauling heavy equipment and has been doing this trucking thing ever since 1978. Oh, and his friend and mentor did recover from his illness.
Red joined Brenny Specialized, Inc. in 2001 as an owner operator. To explain his passion for helping, Red came into the dispatch office in the early 2000’s for 13 years where he helped dispatch drivers and eventually developed the permit department. He trained his predecessor to take it over so he could get back on the road. To this day, that permit department is one of the best in the industry; working smoothly and efficiently to keep the drivers moving and legal. Red will also joke he is the reason the HR department is doing so well and considers himself the backup IT person (while he uses two fingers to type). Red just has an infectious sense of humor, he loves to laugh!
Red went back over the road 5 years ago again as an owner operator. This definitely has impacted Brenny Specialized, Inc. in a positive light. His care and passion for having a safe fleet is felt at every safety meeting. He is a mentor to a lot of drivers and staff. He is an old school trucker who is approachable and gives his years of experience to anyone that needs it. He makes his experiences relatable to anyone with any level of experience. He does all of this while running a best in show truck. He most certainly has a “pride in your ride” and “ride for the brand” attitude. A true ambassador to trucking. He has 4.5 million crash free miles and 42 years of experience and looking to learn more each day.
Red mostly hauls oversized loads for one of our main flatbed freight customers, but he will haul anything to keep the wheels moving. He is an encyclopedia when it comes to load securement/flatbed securement. He is always thinking about how to keep himself and the others sharing the road safe when he secures his load and the way he drives. Red is willing to hop in a truck with another driver if they need additional training behind the wheel. He is always looking for ways to improve our safety culture here and shows genuine concern for others starting their career, he just wants them to be safe and have fun doing it!
To further demonstrate his professionalism, Red has a spotless service record at Brenny. His can-do positive attitude has proven him to have Grand Champion Customer Service! As we all know – trucking is a challenge, whether it be shippers/receivers/general public or weather. When Red is faced with those challenges, Red will call with a smile in his voice and a solution for the situation. This has kept him with a 99% on time record and accident free. This has also created some proud moments for us, he is often requested by customers to haul their freight.
Red has several accomplishments from the companies he has worked for. At Brenny he has been the Driver of the Quarter. He is currently serving his term as a Driver Review Board Member for 2021. Our Driver Review Board is our top 10% of drivers that sit a 1-year term. These are the drivers that are an example of our Road Map to Success by representing themselves, industry, and the company in a positive manner. The Driver Review Board members are our top producing drivers without crashes, violations, incidents, or policy violations. He has been a part of our Team Advisory Committee at Brenny as well. He is one of our best driver mentors on the fleet.
Another passion of Red’s is community involvement. He is the 1st to volunteer for a parade, and the 1st to be involved with our monthly charities. He has a strong passion for St. Christopher’s Foundation, Trucker Charity.org, and Children’s Cancer Research Fund. The smiles he brings to people is as big as the smile he gives. He enjoys every opportunity to be involved and help others.
Going back to Red driving a best in show 2007 Peterbilt 379. There is a very touching story with this truck. It is the same truck that one of Brenny’s former drivers was in. That former driver is now a “Trucking Angel” and the family is doing a celebration of life for that “Trucking Angel”. The story is Brenny’s “Trucking Angel” lived in rural central Minnesota, and when he would come home, he would drive by the family farm and blow his air horn. Red has it staged that during the celebration of life (it is timed out perfectly) he will drive by when the entire family is gathered at the family farm and blow his air horn 1 last time for this “Trucking Angel”
That is why Gerald “Red” Popp is an ambassador to truckers everywhere.
This is a day in the life of Brenny Specialized, Inc. driver Reanee Swiger-Gray. In mid-January of 2021 she was taking some home time near Austin, TX spending it with “Momma & Daddy” When you read this story, please let your imagination go with when you hear her talk. Reanee is a strong Texas lady with an awesome Texas accent with the Texas slang to make everything sound interesting.
Reanee came into Joyce’s office (The Boss Lady as Reanee calls her) the other day and spoke. “You want to hear something cool Boss Lady?” “I was at the hospital waiting on Daddy to get done with his checkup….” As Reanee and “Momma & Daddy” where getting ready to leave, they were talking to the Dr, Reanee was listening to the instructions from the Dr in her right ear, she was listening what was going on at the bus stop outside of the building in her left ear. There was a man trying to get on the bus and was told no over and over. The man was shouting “I don’t have shoes” She could hear the desperation in the man’s voice that he just wanted to get on the bus, take a load off and get out of the rain. Well, the bus zoomed off, leaving the man in the cold rain.
Reanee and family finished up with the Dr. Reanee turned to them and said “Momma that man has no shoes! I need to find him!” So up and down the blocks near the hospital she went. When she finally located this man, Reanee shouted out her window “Hey Bubba, what size shoe do you wear?” The man sheepishly replied, “8 or 9?”. Reanee called the man to the truck and said, “Take these!” Momma said later “you gave that man your new fancy blue tennis shoes? Reanee said without hesitation “That man can’t walk around in the rain without shoes Momma!” They smiled at each other knowing that man could now get out of the rain.
And that was the day Reanee watched her shoes walk down the street without her.
This is just one of many stories Reanee will share with us when she is in the office. She is a trucking Angel! She is always working to make sure someone that needs a hot meal, a cold bottle of water, a listening ear, and that day a pair of shoes gets them. She also brings the author of this story a Chick Fillet sandwich Friday morning if she is in the safety office!
Reanee is has been driving since 2012 and is well over a million miles as an OTR driver. She is month in, month out one of our highest mileage drivers with an impeccable safety record. She is always looking for ways to improve skills and be a safer driver.
She is one of the drivers that will leave a legacy as an Angel keeping this industry looking and acting professional.
As Brad approaches 2 million miles with Brenny Specialized, Inc. he has done so with an impeccable safety record. Brad came to Brenny Specialized, Inc. in 2005. Prior to that, Brad served in the United States Army for eight years. He is a proud United States Veteran and is one of eighteen Military Veterans we have on our fleet of sixty-five drivers.
For the first 12 years at Brenny Specialized, Inc. Brad worked as an over the road company driver. He has a very accomplished skill set. At Brenny Specialized, Inc we haul van, flatbed, step deck, RGN, double drop and over dimensional freight – they are all Brad’s specialty. Currently Brad is part of our local fleet.
Brad’s OTR experience has helped him develop into a lead trainer for our Specialized Award-Winning Training Program. Brad is tasked with taking the new drivers coming into the industry with him for two weeks (minimum) showing them the ropes. He gives them a course on customer service skills, securement, trip planning, truck shifting, hours-of-service, and time management to name a few things. As the new driver works with Brad, he offers constructive feedback, building their confidence and giving them the knowledge to succeed. When Brad is comfortable with that person’s ability, he passes them off to our OTR driver trainer. It does not end there – Brad is constantly checking in with the people he trains years after they start with him. They develop a bond that is there forever. His dedication to teaching others, keeps us one of the safest fleets in the industry. Along with that, Brad plays a vital part in our driver retention. We have 85% retention, (turning over 15%) which is outstanding and something we are all very proud of!
Along with this, Brad has served on our Driver Review Board and Team Advisory Committee at Brenny Specialized, Inc. These are groups of elite drivers within Brenny Specialized, Inc. that handle additional leadership responsibilities such as driver pay/benefit/bonus program changes, driver coaching, policy change all while working directly with the safety manager, VP, and ownership.
Brad is a great representative of what a professional truck driver is! The industry as we know it has people like Brad Fieldler as a next leader! Along with this trucking “stuff” Brad is a great father of two boys. He enjoys cold weather (fits him perfectly living in Central MN). He has a passion for ice fishing and outdoor activities.
Adam Vaughan donates all of the money that he earns from bonuses to charity. He always has a smile on his face and is willing to help others.
Fred helped a gentleman with a camper issue that he came upon along. Fred went and bought a big jack to help with the issue and got the guy back on the road
Henry Kuperus posts weekly on his facebook page offering the general public education and helpful tips on how to share the road safely with semi trucks.
When the pandemic hit, she cancelled her home-time so she could keep our country supplied with life’s essentials.
Tom had such a good year at Brenny, that he donated $2000 to SCF.
Dan lost his daughter in-law in a car accident a few years ago and he is now mentoring and becoming friends with another driver who lost a daughter in a car accident.
Fred is consistently helping with charitable hauls. He even was able to provide another truck driver with their “last ride home.”
Rich Stephens is helping raise his 3 grandchildren so they can have a better life.
Todd Plante helps train new drivers and also shares his experience by going to different schools to educate students so they are aware of the career opportunities as a truck driver.
Calhoun Truck Lines Drivers
“Cindy is not only a great cook, painter, and jokester, she is one heck of a driver. Here she is with ‘Lulabell.’ What a great asset to the Omaha terminal and Calhoun.”
“Armando has been with us since 2018 Armando is always willing to help out when it comes to other drivers and minor repairs he is not afraid to get his hands dirty on his off time he also works on cars. Armando has come a long way from when he first started with us.”
“Jose has been with us since 2015 he is a very positive person and really enjoys what he does we can always count on him when we need help. On his off time he loves spending time with his family and works church events as a DJ on Sundays.”
“Esteban Has been with us since 2018 – Esteban is a very reliable driver and loves to work we are lucky to have him we have watched him grow from driving for a fleet owner to owning his own truck and just recently got himself a newer truck. He is very patient and understands the business.”
Dan is a loyal and hard working driver. He always makes sure he gets his loads to there destinations safe and on time. He takes so much pride in his truck, he always keeps it clean and always checks it for safety before every load and during the transportation of the loads. He always tries to put a smile on people’s face and he loves to see the joy in kids face when he honks his horn for them. Dan takes so much pride in what he loves to do, and that is driving a semi truck for a living. He is very knowledgeable in all the laws and requirements it takes to be a truck driver.
SCF Thanks Drivers
“Where do I even begin. My husband is one of the most hard working individuals I have ever met. He is always willing to put in the hours, often 7 days a week to help out his boss, and ultimately help provide for his family.
Aaron has been a trucker for over 6 years, and is well known in our parts of Mass as a damn fine driver! He’s a dedicated dad/step-dad, a devote husband and a guy you can rely on for about anything!
While his long days and weeks keep him in the road and not at home, I appreciate all he does both at home and at work!”
I, Katie Marie Surmo, nominate myself. You have to step back sometimes and appreciate yourself. The first time I rode in a semi, I was around 7 or 8. I had to do a report on cows for school, and my Grandma was dating a truck driver for Dean Foods, so I was able to ride along for the day and visit cows on the farm too! The first time I drove a semi, I was in AIT at Fort Leonardwood, MO. My MOS was 88MIC Heavy Wheeled Operator. I picked that MOS so I could drive the HMMWV’s and I’m not going to lie, I was very intimated driving a semi at first. It wasn’t that bad. After becoming medically discharged from the US Army. I turned 21 and went to Rock Valley College in Illinois to get my CDL CLASS A license. What a journey since then! I started driving for Werner Enterprises on October 1st, 2003 and went through their training program. 275 hours of drive time with a trainer, I had 3. They were all great, and I learned a lot, and was lucky to have my last 2 trainers Western Regional. That’s where you should learn, lots of mountains and plenty of space. I was able to get on a dedicated account with Target out of Oconomowoc, WI and was able to get home every night! That was hard to come by in the beginning stages for a trucker and I had it. I appreciated it very much. Then the recession hit, December 2008 I was laid off and couldn’t find a job for 8 months. I found an over the road, Midwest regional kinda, right down the street from me, and I did that for almost a year. I just got home on the weekends, so I kept an eye out for new jobs. One of the guys that worked there, left for Behr Iron & Metals, and recommended me to come not that long after. The big boss, Jim Horning, asked if anyone knew any drivers, and Kevin Appelgren raised his hand and said yes, but she’s a girl, and she can DRIVE! So then I started there! And what a fun job that was … I learned so much. We didn’t get paid that much but that’s okay I was content. We did get time and half after 40 and that made up when you got a lot of overtime. Then they cut it back to only a couple hours of overtime if you were lucky in 2013, and I was struggling with bills. My brother’s friend Rich Janco, works at Dayton Freight and has been trying to get me to go there since I had my CDL, but they were system drivers at night, and gone for the week. So it didn’t spark my interest that much. So I reached out, and was able to get a position as a Line Haul driver in August of 2013. Monday through Friday, you come in at night and become a freight relocation specialist. Basically, driving to terminal to terminal maybe a relay with another driver. I wanted days but there was no position available yet. And you make more at night, and I ended up sticking with line haul for 7 years, and just became a P&D driver for days in November of 2020. I became drained from long nights, long drives, and lack of sleep. I needed to move around more, and boy do I move around a lot now! P&D is a lot more fun, lots of interacting with people, bumping a lot of docks, moving freight back with a pallet jack for the no dock customers. I’m the only female driver out of my terminal, there’s not a lot of us even with the whole company. We need more women in LTL !!! Since I started with Dayton Freight 8 years ago, I’ve been able to pay my parents back for the roof they put on my old house, in 4 months, bought a new car, paid it off in a couple years, did a lot of work on my first house, and then sold it a few years ago. Saved up a lot, and bought a house down the street from my parents so I can be close to them. Updating and decorating my house is my hobby and truck driving has helped with that financially. And now that I’m days, I’m getting my balance back. The key to being a successful truck driver is balance in your life and everyone has different views on what makes them balanced. I appreciate myself so much, and all the people I’ve met and places I’ve been to while being on my journey and all the companies that have showed me the way. They were all different in many ways, and they made me a better driver by working there. Werner Enterprises. Silver Arrow Express. Behr Iron & Metals and currently at Dayton Freight Lines. 18 years under my belt, and hopefully 26 more til I’m 65. Over and out.
He started driving at the age of 18. He drove till he was approximately 30 and then went into law enforcement for the next 24 years. And then three nights a week after work he would haul mail from Peoria to Champaign. And then every day after work starting the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas day to deliver Christmas mail. He retired from law enforcement four years ago and went back to full-time trucking and let me, his wife retire. He made employee of the month this year for fort Transfer
He drives to support his family. All he off time is devoted to helping wife, kids, grandchildren, mother and friends with taking care of everything.
Joshua tries and works hard day in and day out to provide for our family, and provides excellence no matter what company he works for. He’s done both local jobs and over the road, and no matter what position he holds he gives his all doing so.
His commitment to the company and his exceptional contribution and services to our family business .
“We all know how hard and rough it gets when things go wrong with your health and you’re fully dependent upon yourself and your family for support. The bills don’t stop and nobody seems to understand that these days. With SCF, there’s finally a comfort, a sigh of relief, to know your electric won’t be shut off or your insurance won’t lapse or you won’t lose your home. There’s a peace you feel knowing you don’t have to worry about anything except recovering and getting back to doing what you love to do. SCF’s staff and Board of Directors are real people! People who know the healthcare system and the day to day struggles of living life. People who understand and have compassion for the trucking industry because they are such a huge part of every area in it. It’s an honor being appointed as a member of the SCF Driver Councilto work with good, down to earth, caring people and working together to help others. But most of all, it’s a blessing to be a part of the end result; seeing drivers and families recover and get back into and excel in an industry I love!”
– Ingrid Brown, Rollin’ B LLC
“St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund has played a major role in the success of Spartan Direct LLC in this monster of an industry. SCF took a chance on me and has been a blessing to me and my family. Our company’s mission is to pay it forward and SCF is the one organization in this industry that supports drivers and their families in their time of need, and that’s exactly what Spartan Direct is about!
I agreed to be a member of SCF’s driver council to continue giving back to this industry and to work with an organization whose goal is to help drivers. It’s about making an impact; no matter the size of the impact but the fact that an impact was made that can change the fortunes of any one individual. When afforded this opportunity I jumped at it in the hopes of paying it forward and hopefully helping SCF continue to impact this industry where many are forgotten or overlooked.”
– James Rogers, Spartan Direct
“The reason I believe in St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund is because I am a truck driver for Heartland Express and I believe in helping other professional drivers like myself. I think of the professional drivers as part of my family. I think that helping someone that needs a hand when he or she is having a hard time due to things that are out of their control. I know first hand that things happen when you don’t expect it and that we all need a little help from time to time. I will always be grateful for the help that my wife and I received from St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund when my wife had gotten hurt and could not walk for about 5 1/2 months and I had to take time off from work to help my wife. We were very blessed when St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund helped us pay some of our bills. So today when I can I help St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund raise money at different events, I also help promote and spread the word about St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund about all the good things that they do to help the professional drivers of today. Also, St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund is the only organization that I know of that helps the professional drivers when there is a financial crisis and that driver needs a little help getting back on their feet. I was asked why did I agree to be a council member for St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund. It is a way for me to give back to an organization that was there for me when I down and needed a helping hand to keep my head above water until I could return to work. Also to be part of an organization in helping the industry that I work in and also help making a difference in the drivers of tomorrow.”
– Bruce Richards, Heartland Express
“SCF is one of the few Truck related Charities that I totally believe in and support on a monthly basis
SCF is there not only when a driver has a health event and runs into financial difficulties, they are there before hand with different programs that help drivers be as healthy as possible.
I would do everything I can to promote SCF and its programs.”
-Marty Ellis, Driver/Volunteer
“During my 35 years as a professional driver my passion was always (and still is) in the area of driver health. It was that passion that drove me to organize the health pavilion at the Great American Trucking Show that provided free health screenings for attendees. It is also the reason I am so proud to serve on the Board of Directors at the St. Christopher Fund. Though I am now retired, my experience along with the experience of the other drivers on the driver council will strive to search for solutions and provide support to our nations’ drivers with the many health issues they face each day.”
-Rick Ash, 2021 Driver Ambassador Council Chair/SCF Board Member