Melvin Hendershot of Arabi, Ga., could use a sentence or two of encouragement.
The 59-year-old driver (pictured with his wife, Zeke) has logged many miles over a 38-year career, many of them spent as a bull hauler, but he’s been off the road for 10 months following an April 2012 cancer diagnosis. At present, says his stepdaughter, Veronica Hughes – herself a driver for Illinois-based small fleet 3D Specialized – Hendershot is in Phoebe Putney Memorial hospital in Albany, Ga., facing a round of what docs are calling “killer chemo.” If treatments go well, he’ll move on to Augusta for further advanced treatment.
The last year has been an ordeal for her father, says Hughes, particularly given his removal from what’s been his biggest pastime, one I suspect you’ll recognize. “He loves to truck,” she says. “As soon as he got sick they took him out of the truck immediately. He’s always working, always moving, so that hit him hard – it broke his heart when they told him he couldn’t drive.”
To lift his spirits, Hughes and her mother, Zeke (who drives for Cairo, Ga.-based RBI), began reconnecting with friends and extended family on Facebook initially in an attempt to raise money to help cover medical expenses. But when they realized how much Hendershot valued the cards with various notes of well-wishes and other correspondence he received from those who cared about him, they refocused efforts. “Our big thing became trying to get him cards,” says Hughes, and “when he found out that I was trying to get people to send out cards, my grandmother was with him and he lit up – he thought that was the coolest thing in the world.”
Of particular interest to Hendershot was hearing from other drivers out on the road, Hughes says, doing what he can no longer. She reached out to me after a conversation on the CB with her boss at 3D Specialized attracted some eavesdroppers at an Illinois truck stop recently. “May I ask what’s going on?” a driver asked over the radio, hearing their conversation about Hendershot’s predicament. After Hughes told him the story, “I’m going in the truck stop to get a card right now to put it in the mail,” the driver said, sight unseen.
Any correspondence you might wish to send Hendershot can be delivered to:
371 Avery Rd.
Arabi, GA 31712
Before he was forced off the road with his illness last year, Hughes says, Hendershot drove for Florida-based small fleet Tidy Coast Transport, hauling deck and often oversize freight. He hails originally from Southern Indiana/Northern Kentucky. “He’s a religious man,” she adds, “and goes to church when he can.”
Also feel free to post messages, one driver to another, says Hughes, for Hendershot on a Facebook page newly created for him. Find it here.
I know he’ll appreciate it.