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via; Tom King |

St. Christopher Fund’s Donna Kennedy with Farragut Rotary president Ed Jones (at left) and president-elect, the Rev. David Bluford

Secrets can be fun … and enlightening. Today it’s time to share a well-kept, little local secret with you. Ever heard of the “St. Christopher Truckers Development and Relief Fund (SCF)?”

No? Not many have. So, what is the SCF? Yesterday, the Rotary Club of Farragut learned all about this secret SCF from its executive director, Donna Kennedy.

It was founded here in 2007 by Knoxville physician Dr. John McElligott and is now doing business in 50 states and going strong. It is a 501(c)(3) charity established to help over-the-road and regional semi-truck drivers whose medical conditions have created financial difficulties. It is the only kind of charity of its kind in the U.S. for the trucking industry.

After witnessing hundreds of truck drivers and their families struggle to survive as a result of catastrophic illness or injury, McElligott felt compelled to take action. He found willing partners in Dave Nemo, host of The Dave Nemo Show (XM Radio Channel 146) and his business partner Michael Burns. Together, they launched the truck driver charity to come to the aid of professional drivers in need.

“The drivers are for the most part sedentary, overweight and don’t have good diets, and driving those rigs is both tiring and stressful,” she said. “Sleep apnea is a real issue.”

Since its start, the SCF has spent $3.5 million helping 3,204 drivers. The money goes directly to the bill holders – not to the drivers.

SCF assists drivers who travel 500-plus miles a day. Assistance may be in the form of direct payment to providers for household living expenses, insurance, prescription drugs and various medical procedures. The SCF also provides drivers and families with information on how to negotiate price reductions with medical providers and hospitals.

The top three medical issues are cardiovascular (including cancer), orthopedic and pulmonary, she said. Hypertension is a major problem for truck drivers. They currently have two wellness programs available and offer free vaccine vouchers to all drivers with a valid commercial driver’s license for flu, pneumonia and the shingles.

SCF also offers a tobacco cessation program called “Rigs without Cigs” that includes tools, advice, encouragement and accountability to any driver who wants to become tobacco free.

“As everyone here knows, trying to stop smoking is really hard and it’s doubly hard for a trucker out on the road. But so far we’ve got 135 drivers who have quit and others in the program now.”

SCF has two streams of donations – 60% from individuals and 40% from corporations. One oddity she noted: “It’s very surprising to us that only a few trucking companies donate to us. It’s interesting to try and understand this.”

You can learn a lot more about this Knoxville secret by visiting the SCF website here.

The secret is now out!