OTA doles out funds to deserving students

Toronto — The Ontario Trucking Association awarded its first Professional Driver Memorial Scholarship today to David Lafferty.

The first year student of the University of Guelph where he is studying for his Bachelor of Commerce degree.

The scholarship was presented by Debbie Virgoe, widow of the Ontario truck driver whose tragic death in June 2007 was one of the guiding factors leading OTA to establish the scholarship.

Lafferty’s father (David Sr.) had been involved in a tractor-trailer upset while employed as a driver for All-Ontario Transport, where he had been a recipient of the company’s safe driving award in each year of his employment. Lafferty Sr. was severely injured when the contents of an improperly loaded and sealed ocean container shifted, ultimately leaving him a paraplegic. He has not been able to return to work since the incident.

“The Ontario trucking industry is blessed with a solid foundation of professional drivers who are often the unsung heroes of Ontario’s roadways and whose dedication keeps the goods that we need and use each and every day moving”, says OTA president David Bradley. “Mr. Lafferty exemplifies why this scholarship was created and is just one example of an individual who has been injured on-the-job through no fault of his own. We are extremely pleased to be able to provide some financial assistance to his son as he embarks on his university education.”

The OTA Professional Driver Memorial Scholarship is awarded annually and funded by an endowed fund established by OTA and administered by the OTA Education Foundation.

Overall, the OTA Education Foundation handed out nearly $30,000 in scholarships to university and college students last month.

“We had some very impressive applications come in this year,” says the foundation’s executive director, Betsy Sharples. “We would have liked to hand out at least a dozen more scholarships – there were certainly many deserving students this year.”

All scholarship applications had to be sponsored by an Ontario trucking or allied product/service company that employs (or contracts) one of the student’s parents in order to be considered for an award.

In addition, one outstanding student entering university from high school was awarded the J. O. Goodman Award (Kirsten Seibel of Hamilton) and one outstanding student entering college from high school was awarded the C. V. Hoar Award (Jake Forde of Barrie, Ont.).

50-50 Challenge

In celebration of the Education Foundation’s 50th anniversary, all donations received from industry or individuals will be matched – up to $50,000 – by an anonymous donor.

“Recently, the foundation was approached by someone with an affiliation to the Ontario trucking industry who sees a great deal of value in what the foundation is doing in Ontario,” said Scott Smith, chairman of the OTA Education Foundation. “So much so that the Foundation recently accepted an offer from this donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, to match donations – up to $50,000 – that we receive between now and March 31 of next year.”

Companies or individuals wishing to make a donation under the 50-50 Challenge matching program can do so by downloading a 50-50 Challenge donation commitment form from the foundation’s website. Charitable receipts will be issued upon request.

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