Trucker Buddy News
'The Viking' fills big shoes
May Trucker Buddy Driver of the Month Gary “The Viking” Ninivirta went above and beyond the call of duty to fill a very special need for Gregg Jochimsen’s 120 eighth-graders in Chippewa Falls, WI.
“As my eighth-grade students were preparing to kick off a new school year, which included our initial contacts with a Trucker Buddy, we received some very sad news,” Jochimsen said. “The Trucker Buddy who was corresponding with us had died. Many were looking forward to the contact, and they were heartbroken with the news.”
Along came Ninivirta, facing a big job with his first Trucker Buddy class. “I thought it was cool they were still interested,” he said, “but then I went, whoa, big shoes to fill.”
Jochimsen said Ninivirta went out of his way for the program and the students. “Not only has Gary visited our classroom on three different occasions, he keeps in contact with us on a weekly basis,” Jochimsen related.
Ninivirta, a Trucker Buddy since 2004, lives in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. A driver of 25-plus years, he currently drives for Winnipeg Moving, an agent for Allied Van Lines, in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The Viking, as he is better known to “his kids,” says the students have “taught me a lot. And I love working with Mr. J. Teachers are definitely my heroes, and I give full credit to my own children’s teachers, along with my wife, Susan, for their moving through the grades and graduating. I want to be a teacher when I grow up!”
His sense of humor is part of Gary’s popularity with the students, Jochimsen noted. “He truly seems to care about them. He purchased 120 Christmas gifts for all of the students and gave each of them a CB handle.”
Ninivirta 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 learn more about the program by visiting www.truckerbuddy.org or calling (800) MY BUDDY.
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 ACS MultiMedia Advertising. Over the Road and Pro Trucker magazines are proud sponsors of the Trucker Buddy program.
Photo caption: Teacher Gregg Jochimsen and his 8th graders at Chippewa Falls Middle School in Wisconsin nominated “The Viking.”