“Our Trucker Buddies are cool”

Paul and Roni Caramico, of Oregon House, CA, are Trucker Buddies to Mrs. Nancy Warzecha’s second grade class in Elyria, OH. Inspired by the interest of the youngsters at the Windsor Elementary School, these team drivers for West Side Transport sponsored an essay contest this spring on “Why every school should have Trucker Buddies.”

The Caramicos asked Trucker Buddy board members Paul Abelson and Joan Kasicki to be the judges. Abelson and Kasicki both are members of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA). Abelson is technical editor for Land Line Magazine. Joan Kasicki is the association’s Ohio representative. On May 24, Joan accompanied the Caramicos to visit the class and share punch and cake with the students. The judges announced the three top essay writers and awarded plaques. All students received t-shirts, certificates and backpack reflectors.

Here’s a few excerpts from the prize-winning essays: “Mr. and Mrs. Caramico taught us about the safety zone around the semi … every class should have a Trucker Buddy … Mr. and Mrs. Caramico taught us that semi trucks have to be very careful on the road. The Trucker Buddy program teaches lots. They talked about what they haul, like diapers and stoves. They gave us a magnet board that had states. We all did research with books about different semi trucks. The semi drivers can sleep in the cab. The back part that hauls the stuff is called the rig. Semi drivers drive a lot of hours. I got taught that semi truck rigs can be up to 85 feet long. The Caramicos gave us coal … and sent us chips of gold in water and a dreamcatcher. The dream catcher taught us about Native Americans. The Caramicos also taught us that they went through every state. Our Trucker Buddies are cool.”

Trucker Buddy is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to helping educate and mentor the nation’s schoolchildren via a penpal relationship between professional truckdrivers and children in grades 2-8.

Every week, these drivers share news about their travels with their assigned classes, and provide a format for the enhancement of the grade school curriculum in reading, writing, geography, mathematics, social studies and history.

Since 1992, Trucker Buddy has helped educate more than a half million schoolchildren and has introduced them to a group of caring, compassionate men and women, the nation’s professional truckdrivers.

Trucker Buddy is an award-winning program (Most Significant Service Award, Truck Writers of North America 1994 and 1997 RPM Xtra Mile Award). Trucker Buddy has been featured in hundreds of publications and television reports including People Magazine, Reader’s Digest, Family Circle, Sci-Fi Channel, CNN Headline News, Charles Osgood File, and the Wall Street Journal.

OOIDA and Caterpillar are gold sponsors of the Trucker Buddy program. Silver sponsors are AT&T, ArvinMeritor and the Truckload Carriers Association. For more information, call 1-800-MYBUDDY.