Howard Salmon hit the ground running when he joined Trucker Buddy as a volunteer in 2005, engaging his class right from the start. “The class immediately responded to him with great enthusiasm and admiration,” says Sonja Padgett, teacher of the second-grade class with which Salmon is matched at Anderson Heights Elementary School in Anderson, Calif. “Every year gets better.”
The above and beyond that earned Salmon the ACS MultiMedia Trucker Buddy Driver of the Month award for January 2007, however, was his additional effort to support the organization through fund raising. Early on, Salmon was as inspired by his students as they were by him, and he wrote a Trucker Buddy song for his class. Part of the song includes children singing, which will be performed on the CD by the second graders at Anderson Heights Elementary.
In early 2006, Salmon was moved to share the song with other Trucker Buddy classes and began pursuing options for having the lyrics recorded and set to CD. To date, he has gotten the music recorded and donated; the next step is to get the lyrics added to the music, and he is seeking sponsors to assist with the cost of having the CDs burned. The goal is to have the song available to the public in time for distribution at the Mid-America Trucking Show, scheduled for March 27-29 in Louisville, Ky. Salmon will donate all proceeds from the CDs to Trucker Buddy.
Salmon — an owner-operator who lives in Anderson — also is an accomplished photographer. “We have received beautiful pictures of places we have never been to, including historical monuments,” Padgett says, adding that Salmon also sends pictures of native plants and animals from where they are across the country.
Each Trucker Buddy Driver of the Month receives a personalized jacket, along with a check for $300 to spend on the class and $200 in Trucker Buddy merchandise, compliments of program sponsor ACS MultiMedia Advertising. They also receive an IdleAire adaptor, a Koolatron cooler and a complete set of Airtabs for their tractor or trailer. Five owner-operators have received a set of steer tires from Continental Tire. The class will receive a CrossCountry USA game from Ingenuity Works, which will help them learn more about how trucks move freight across the continent.
Salmon is among some 3,500 other professional drivers who share their time with elementary classes throughout the world. The only criteria to be a Trucker Buddy is to be a professional truck driver with a CDL who is willing to send a postcard each week to a class in grades two through eight. Drivers and teachers can find out more about the program by going to www.truckerbuddy.org.