By Randy Grider
One of the highlights of my job as editor of Truckers News is talking with our readers.
Doubly enjoyable is the once-a-year privilege of spending time with our Great American Trucking Family winners. It gives me a rare opportunity to get personally acquainted with close-knit relatives who share a passion for both trucking and family.
We kicked off our annual contest in 2002. The Synder family of Port Huran, Mich., was our inaugural winner. I joined the Synders at the home of Bill and Brenda (Synder) Striebich for a Fourth of July feast and family reunion to conduct my interviews for our cover story. Their hospitality left me feeling like an adoptive member of the family.
I spent the next few weeks chatting by phone with family members as we fact-checked my story and made travel arrangements for their trip to the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, where they received their award.
They had been recognized for many safety awards in the household moving industry over the years, but the Synders were as humble and gracious as any family you’d ever want to meet. I was truly proud for them when I presented them with their award in Dallas. I heard from a few family members over the next couple of months and even received a card signed by all of them more than a year later.
Over the next two years, I spent my Fourth of Julys with other families who were selected the Great American Trucking Family. In 2003, it was the Doyle family of Springfield, Colo., and in 2004, it was the Breeden family of the Bloomington, Ind., area. Both experiences were great. I found the same hospitality and family closeness that I enjoyed with the Synders.
The families joined me and other Truckers News representatives onstage both years to receive their award prior to a concert by Diamond Rio at the trucking show. (The concerts were sponsored by Mobil Delvac, and ExxonMobil officials allowed us to share their venue for the prestigious presentation – a huge bonus to the winning trucking families).
This past year as the Great American Trucking Show moved from early September to late August, we moved up our selection process. I traveled to Lock Haven, Penn., to interview the Conner family. Even though it was the first time I conducted interviews before July 4, you couldn’t tell from the festive atmosphere. It was complete with enough food and family members enjoying the day together to make it feel like a holiday.
Again, Mobil Delvac graciously allowed us to use the Friday night Terri Clark concert to recognize our winners. As with all the winners in the past, we shared a great dinner with the family at a popular restaurant in the historic West End district.
Other perks of being named the Great American Trucking family include being featured in Truckers News, a Paul Harvey news spot on his syndicated radio show, other free concerts and serving as celebrity judges at Overdrive’s Pride & Polish truck beauty competition. All of this is wrapped around the three-day trucking show that has something special for each trucking family member.
We’re especially excited this year because it’s the contest’s fifth anniversary. We’re looking for truck drivers with deep roots in the trucking industry. This can be multi-generational or extended families that include parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, etc., with trucking ties.
Entering is simple. We have included an entry form on page 33. Simply fill it out and drop it in the mail. You also can enter online at www.truckersnews.com.
For the previous winners, they’ve all told me being named the Great American Trucking Family is one of the most exciting things they’ve experienced. Then they quickly add, “with the exception of marrying my wife,” or “the birthday of my children” or “grandchildren.” I appreciate their perspective. The latter is the way it should be because the award is about family as much as trucking.
Most of our previous winners also have said they were shocked when we called to tell them they’d won. They didn’t really expect it. It shows that the first step to winning is taking the time to throw your name in the hat.
Out there somewhere in this country are family members who will get a call from us in May announcing they have won. And our staff is anxious to welcome them as our guests in Dallas in August. It’s a rewarding experience for us, too.
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