Canadian driver Gary “The Viking” Ninivirta has been named the May Trucker Buddy Driver of the Month, based on his work with a class of 120 eighth-graders in Wisconsin. Ninivirta, a Trucker Buddy since 2004, visited the class three times and kept in contact with them on a weekly basis by phone and by postcard. He also purchased 120 Christmas gifts for each of the students and gave each of them their own CB handle.
A driver for more than 25 years, Ninivirta lives in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and drives for Winnipeg Moving, an agent for Allied Van Lines, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Ninivirta joined Trucker Buddy as a way to work with children while driving longhaul, and is one of nearly 4,000 professional drivers in the program that links drivers with students in grades two through eight through a pen pal relationship. Every week, drivers share news about their travels with their class, and once a month, students write letters to their drivers.
As Trucker Buddy Driver of the Month, Ninivirta will receive a check for $300 to spend on the class and $200 in Trucker Buddy merchandise, among other gifts. The class will receive a CrossCountry USA game, which will help them learn more about how trucks move freight across the continent. Drivers and teachers can find out more about the program by visiting www.truckerbuddy.org.