LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Participants of the Trucker Buddy awards ceremony, held last week at the Mid-America Trucking Show, had a special testimonial from one of its younger members.
Eight year-old Veronika Kurimska of John S. Hobart elementary located in Shirley, N.Y., spoke about the rich pen-pal relationship that she and the rest of her Grade 3 class has enjoyed with “Trucker Buddy” Frank Nathanson.
“We have seen and learned about many places in the United States not only from getting post cards, but from the pictures that Trucker Buddy Frank sends us, attached to his e-mails,” she said at the MATS Ceremony which honoured a total of 12 Trucker Buddy award winners: one chosen for each month of the year 2007.
Kurimska recalled one harrowing moment for the class, when Nathanson was traveling near Biloxi, Mississippi, and a nasty storm kicked up. The truck driver described what it was like to drive with unstable weather conditions, using electronic tools that made the experience especially vivid for the Grade 3 students. “He was in a lightning and thunder rainstorm and heard that there were tornado warnings,” said Kurimska. “It was not safe for him to drive. He loved the storm, but we just wanted to make sure he was safe.”
The young girl enjoys and appreciates the time Nathanson puts into the pen-pal program, including a Web site built especially for his third grade pen-pals. “He has all of the safety rules he taught us posted there,” said the young girl. “He also has what he calls ‘Franks Laws’ which are his ideas for living: (such as) ‘failure is not an option; when in doubt think.’
“Some of them are funny,” she added. “Trucker Buddy Frank also posts the pictures of his visits to us and the letters and cards we write him. We love going there because it makes us feel special and we can always see Frank there.”
Nathanson was chosen as Trucker Buddy for the month of May 2007, and while that was the most charming testimonial at the event, it was not the only experience to be praised. There were 11 other extraordinary Trucker Buddies, who were commended at the event for offering a vibrant personal and educational experience to the young students, including some who went well beyond the pen pal expectation.
Trucker Buddy International was formed in 1992, is sponsored by the American Trucking Associations, and has many Canadian members. The program has a mandate to help educate and mentor schoolchildren via a pen-pal relationship between professional truck drivers and children in grades two to eight. Trucker Buddy matches classes of students with professional truck drivers. Every week, the drivers share news about their travels with their assigned classes, and provide a format for the enhancement of the grade school curriculum in reading, writing, geography, mathematics, social studies, and history.
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