Of personal bests, the St. Christopher fund and truckin’, writin’ and runnin’

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virtual-5k-run-todd-dillsThat right there, friends, is the best 5K time I’ve ever had, done yesterday as part of the Truckin’ Runners Facebook group’s annual benefit “Virtual 5K,” which regular readers will recall. Never before have I cracked the 8-minute mile on a distance above a mile or so — testament, perhaps, to the longer distances I’ve been running on the weekends when time allows (I just might be getting ready for a half-marathon — it’d be the first one I’ve ever done, if I am, and yes I might be! — November 12 here in Nashville).

I’ll attribute it to the competitive spirit of events like the Virtual 5K, though, the accountability it puts on you to step up to the plate and go, which partly inspires the Truckin’ Runners Facebook group itself, of course.

(If you can get in a 5K and document your time for Jon Narron with the group by the end of the day on Sunday, there’s still time to register with a donation to the St. Christopher Trucker Development and Relief Fund and participate in this year’s event, fyi. Details via this link to the event page.)

Lately, I’ve been inspired by this series from a Truckin’ Runners member, in which (obviously) the driver documents his use of available time on the road to get in something of a workout (Bonus: The notes that go along with the “Push-ups at the pump” videos can be quite funny, too.)

The Virtual 5K, as noted, is intended also to benefit the St. Christopher fund. Lately, I’d been in contact with Julie Dillon from the fund about something of a clarification of their mission. They’re not intended, as has been implied by a lot of reports (including, gulp, at least a couple of my own), solely to be a source for money to defray truckers’ medical/health-related costs when in dire straits. Rather, Dillon reiterates, the organization covers drivers’ costs in a much broader sense, helping “semi-truck drivers whose medical problems occurring within the last two years have led to financial hardship. Assistance may be in the form of primarily paying living expenses while recovering from illness and out of work, providing information on how to negotiate price reductions with medical providers and hospitals and/or direct payment for medical services or prescription drugs. The SCF is also working to provide programs that will benefit professional drivers and the trucking industry.”

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The organization has worked with drivers afflicted by anything from a seriously life-changing illness like cancer to those who’ve been unable to pass a DOT physical and need a sleep study or CPAP machine to get back on the road. “We want to make sure that drivers are able to have a house to come home to and electricity/water in that home for them,” she says.

As of the end of September, the organization had given out more than $1.4 million on behalf of 1,653 drivers, an average $605 per driver. “We pay all bill holders direct,” says Dillon. “No money is given to drivers themselves. And: Approximately 78 percent of all donations are used for that purpose, which beats a Better Business Bureau best practice for nonprofits stating that at least 65 percent of incoming funds should be used for the nonprofit’s primary program activities.

“We also offer two programs that will promotes healthier lifestyles while out on the road,” Dillon adds — the Driven to Be Healthy Challenge and Free Vaccine Vouchers.

The DTBH Challenge is a six-month challenge that has monthly winners, as well as two grand prize winners. The categories are Highest Percentage of Weight Lost and Most Active Minutes. Find more information via this link.

The vaccine-vounches program enables drivers to get flu, pneumonia and shingles vaccines for free at any Kroger Pharmacy, Little Clinic or Walgreen’s. Just print the vouchers, take them to the location and present the voucher along with your CDL. This program is made possible by the partnership of NAIT, OOIDA and the SCF. More information via this link, and visit TruckersFund.org for the St. Christopher main page.

Anybody else hitting the road on foot/running shoe this weekend?