Driver responds to special needs students
Laura Schmidt’s special needs students at Douglas Middle School in Box Elder, SD each wrote letters to nominate their Trucker Buddy, Duane Donner, as driver of the month. Their admiration for their driver is evident.
“He sends us a letter every week,” wrote James, who added, “He’s the best trucker in the world.” The 6th grade student also told us that Trucker Duane “is the nicest man I have ever met.”
Twelve-year-old Joseph wrote, “I am proud to know Trucker Duane,” adding that he would like to see his driver honored as Trucker Buddy of the month “from the bottom of my heart.”
Laura Schmidt’s classes have been corresponding with Duane for the past three years, and in her nomination letter she wrote, “I can’t imagine how anyone could be more genuine, more caring or more kind” than Trucker Buddy Duane. Donner has visited the school several times, and he usually stays for the entire day and joins the kids for physical education class.
When Donner learned of the nomination, he said his experience with his class was re-warding. “The biggest thing I’ve learned from these kids is that small things in life are im-portant to them,” he said. “They’ve been born with challenges, and yet they’re always happy.”
Donner is a company driver for Wal-Mart’s Private Fleet, based in Buckeye, AZ. He and his wife have adopted the class as their own. He makes the trip to South Dakota to visit the students and treats them to pizza and gifts during the year. Kathy Katz, personnel manager at the Wal-Mart Distri-bution Center, encourages all of her drivers to become Trucker Buddies, but said, “Duane has exemplified the best of the best.”
Donner has adopted two classes. In addition to Laura Schmidt’s students, he corresponds with Janice Miller’s class in McIn-tosh, SD. He is one of nearly 4,000 professional drivers who share their time with elementary classes throughout the world. The only criteria to be a Trucker Buddy is to be a truck driver willing to send a postcard each week to a class in grades two through eight. Drivers can find out more about the program by visiting www.truckerbuddy.org or calling 1-800-MY BUDDY.
As the Trucker Buddy of the Month, Donner will receive a personalized jacket, a check for $300 to spend on his class and $200 in Trucker Buddy merchandise. Over the Road and Pro Trucker magazines are proud sponsors of the Trucker Buddy program.