Longtime driver Chris Dowdy, today off the road for medical reasons, has put his downtime to good use with a new “Truckers for Hope” initiative that is intended to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. “The hospital spends $1.8 million a day to keep the doors open,” he says, “and they don’t ask for a dime back. All the research they’re doing is benefiting hospitals around the world.”
When St. Jude opened in 1962, Dowdy says, the survival rate for children developing various cancers was around a mere 5 percent. “Now it’s up to 80 percent,” he adds.
Dowdy’s been taking names to fill limited slots in a planned April 25 visit to the hospital that will include two rigs and several others — many of them drivers — to show truckers’ support for the kids and the work the hospital does.
Those who can’t be in attendance, he says, can either donate to the hospital or send him a printed picture of “their truck and trailer with them in the picture and with a short biography. We’ll put all these on a big posterboard” and take it along as a message of goodwill from drivers.
Since launching the idea to the public via the Truckers for Hope Facebook page just a few weeks ago, the idea has gained quite a lot of traction and attention from interested drivers and others.
It all follows a conversation Dowdy had with a friend during the OOIDA Heart of America trucking show out last October about ways to both benefit a good cause and improve the image of truckers in the general public, to “show drivers – if you want to improve our image, this is a good way,” Dowdy says. “Drivers could take this model back to their own communities.”
With nearly 1,200 “likes” on the Truckers for Hope Facebook page as of this writing, “the response has been overwhelming,” says Dowdy. “A lot of people are blown away that some goofy guy,” he adds, referring to himself, “could come with something like this and get it going.” If all goes well, in the Fall “we’re going to be doing this again.”