Friends, strangers team up to raise $15,000 for cancer-stricken trucker

| 3/30/2007

For the past two years, David “Rusty Nail” Broyles made friends while barbecuing chicken and pork in a parking lot outside the Mid-America Trucking Show. He’s come to know a lot of people.

But it’s the hundreds of truckers and trucking vendors David doesn’t know who have given the OOIDA member a lift during the biggest fight of his life.

David, 43, was diagnosed recently with lung cancer. Recently, the Dyersburg, TN, resident learned that the cancer had spread to his liver, bones, bloodstream and brain.

OOIDA members Randy “Kemosabe” Cunha and Donna “Saddles” Baggett brainstormed ways of raising money for their friend.

The pair agreed to stage the auction on Friday, March 23, in the parking lot at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY.

At MATS, a host of truckers soon pitched in, including OOIDA members Dave Smith, Chris Thom, Rusty and Mary Wade, Miles and Geri Verhoef, Robin Moran and brother Rick, Susan Jones and trucking radio host Bubba Bo worked on the auction that Donna said was sometimes loose on organization, but long on good times.

Dave Smith and Miles Verhoef worked as auctioneers, using Donna’s karaoke machine, and the Kentucky Soybean Growers provided a hog to roast.

Several trucking companies and organizations donated items to be auctioned, Donna said, including tandem axle stoppers, chrome-plated metal step boxes and even an autographed copy of singer Leland Martin’s jeans.

Donna said she walked the show’s parking lots and exhibits asking for money, and talked some vendors into sharing a few dollars of their sales profits.

“They said I’d been in more men’s pants pockets than their wives had been,” Donna said, laughing.

After the auction, the truckers mailed David a package containing $15,000.

Donna said the fundraising effort was indicative of the trucking brotherhood she remembered from the early 1980s.

“The cause was worthy and everybody pulled together so tight,” Donna said. “That’s how it used to be – truckers taking care of truckers…We can fight about black boxes and pee bottles all day long but when it’s time to pull together for another driver, we really do.”

Doctors originally said he had 30 to 90 days to live, though one doctor said he could live a year or longer, David told Land Line Thursday. Chemotherapy treatment forced David off the road and medical bills have been mounting, he said.

David told Land Line that 11 weeks of chemotherapy seem to have slowed the cancer, allowing him to gain weight and reducing pressure in his chest from the lung tumor.

His weight had dropped from 210 to 175 pounds, David said.

“Since I’ve been taking chemo we’ve had nothing but good news,” David said. “The chemo is working. I’m eating like a stud horse – I’m starting to get a shape back to my body.”

OOIDA member Miles Verhoef acted as auctioneer during a portion of the fundraiser and told “Land Line Now” on XM Satellite Radio that the event’s festive atmosphere stemmed from the kinship all truckers feel.

“To me it just shows that there are so many positive things about this industry that doesn’t get put out to the general public,” Verhoef said. “It’s a blessing, it really is.”

David asked that Land Line include one statement from him and his girlfriend to truckers, vendors and others who donated items for his cause at MATS.

“To the truck drivers, I don’t know all of them but I’d just like to say thank you,” David said. “Thanks a million prayers over from me and Pat.”

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer