The Band Together campaign of TravelCenters of America made big news last month with another successful fundraiser, bringing in $286,016.20 from Aug. 1 to Sept. 14 to benefit the St. Christopher Fund. But what you probably haven’t heard is that the SCF has already given more than $204,000 in assistance this year.
Of this, $73,922 has been provided to drivers in need just since Band Together started, which was on Aug. 1.
The St. Christopher Truckers Development and Relief Fund is a 501(c)(3), nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance to professional truck drivers who have medical problems and who are in need of financial assistance. Assistance may be in the form of direct payment for medical services, prescription drugs, and household expenses while recovering from illness or injury. The SCF is also working to provide programs that will benefit professional drivers and the trucking industry.
This week, SCF stated in a press release that an additional $10,200 has been approved, meaning the SCF is just waiting on the bills to come in. The SCF receives 30-45 applications for assistance each month.
According to the release, applicants have a wide range of medical issues, everything from broken ankles to terminal cancer. The top three issues affecting our applicants are cardiovascular related, orthopedic issues (such as broken bones), and cancer. The average age of those with cardiovascular issues is 52, orthopedic is 48, and cancer is 53. The average age of all applicants is 50, too young to retire or to get Social Security.
“I’m seeing younger and younger drivers with serious, debilitating medical issues that will take them off the road for good. But, most of the time, this doesn’t have to be the outcome. Drivers need to get healthier, make better choices, and start taking care of themselves,” said Dr. John McElligott, the fund’s medical review officer.
The majority of applicants have no health insurance or accident insurance, short-term or long-term disability, or money in savings, so when a medical event takes them off the road, it’s financially catastrophic.
Executive Director Dr. Donna Kennedy says the SCF sees case after case where a medical problem has led to foreclosure on a home, repossession of a vehicle, and months of no electricity.
“These issues can happen even with something as simple as a broken leg,” says Dr. Kennedy. “It’s disheartening to see these hard-working drivers become devastated so quickly when they get sick or injured. Our hope is that we can put some programs in place to help drivers on the front end, as well as with relief when it’s needed.”
Some of the programs the SCF is trying to fund include providing free flu shots, mammograms, and A1C testing; a health and wellness reward program; and educational programs on various health, financial and insurance issues.
Where does the funding come from? Director of Philanthropy & Development Shannon Currier says the Band Together campaign provides most of the donations, and SCF is on track to have spent all of those funds on drivers by the end of the year.
Currier says more than 80 percent of St. Christopher Fund donations come from individuals.
“Drivers are doing their part,” she says. The SCF helps drivers get back to work, which is beneficial to the driver, the company, and the economy in general.
“However, of the 578 known companies beneficiaries (drivers helped) worked for,” says Currier, “only two have ever contributed funds.”
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