ATA, industry deliver $1.5 million to Red Cross

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On behalf of the U.S. trucking industry, its member motor carriers and their drivers, and supportive industry suppliers, the American Trucking Associations this week delivered $1.5 million in donations to the American Red Cross for use in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

Bill Graves, ATA president and CEO, presented the trucking industry funds to American Red Cross Executive Vice President Alan McCurry at the Red Cross Disaster Operations Center in Washington, D.C.

The industry’s fund drive had been sparked by an initial individual donation of $1 million by Russell Gerdin, president and CEO of Heartland Express. After Gerdin challenged more truckers to also donate to the Red Cross through ATA, an additional $500,000 was raised.

The funds came from all levels of the industry, including motor carriers, suppliers, state trucking associations and individual truck drivers. Typical of the generous donors was professional truck driver Christine Walls. The Heartland Express over-the-road driver offered a pay check to the Red Cross. Walls attended the Red Cross ceremony on behalf of all her fellow driver donors.

Representing Heartland Express was Dan Dietter, Southeast regional manager for the Iowa City, Iowa-based carrier. Dietter’s Georgia-based operation is responsible for expediting Heartland’s operations in Katrina-damaged areas.

Graves said the donation is reflective of the U.S. trucking industry being among the first on the scene to help in times of national emergency. He said the check is representative of the even larger amount of aid and in-kind services that individual trucking companies, industry suppliers and other executives are offering to ongoing Katrina relief efforts.

On behalf of the American Red Cross, McCurry thanked the trucking industry for “exhibiting the American spirit of geneorisity.”