Michael Cummingham, a driver for Wal-Mart, has been named November 2012 Trucker Buddy of the Month. He was nominated by his wife, Sharon Cunningham, a teacher at Hayes Grade Center in Ada, Okla.
Michael Cummingham with the classroom's Trucking Buddy mascot, named Hayes.
Michael Cummingham with the classroom's Trucking Buddy mascot, named Hayes.

"I found out about this program through my husband, Michael, as he has carried a few prized possessions around the country for other classrooms," said Sharon. "This year, he suggested that I participate in the program. After I found out how to get started, signed up, and was matched with Michael, I introduced our Trucking Buddy mascot, named Hayes, to my classroom.

"To say the students were a little excited would be putting it mildly. They chose the clothes he would wear for the trip, items for his backpack, and decorated his journal. Then we waited.

"On a Friday morning in October, Michael showed up at our school in his Wal-Mart uniform, driving his truck and pulling a Wal-Mart Educational Blind Spot Trailer."

According to Sharon, Michael presented a safety program to 450 excited first and second grade students. "He said two words that one must never say in that situation, 'Everyone Run!' Well, they all did. They ran to the side of the trailer, the back of the trailer, to the front of the trailer, and if Michael wasn't several feet taller than the students, one would have never noticed he was a little older than most first and second graders."

The students, many of whom have never been that close to a truck before, listened intently to his presentation and many of the school's teachers stated even they were not aware a truck had blind spots and that is takes so long for a loaded semi to stop. The students, on the other hand, were fascinated by the fact there was a bed in the truck, and many have said they've decided to be truck drivers.

After the safety presentation, Michael accommodated all 450 students as they toured the inside of his tractor. He assisted students in wheelchairs, answered hundreds of questions, and volunteered his time unconditionally.

In her nomination, Sharon said, "Not only was the safety presentation educational, my class project has turned into a school wide activity. Our website posts regular updates of our Trucker Buddy's travels and my interactive bulletin board is visited on a daily basis. Every Monday morning during our school assembly, Hayes makes an appearance during the slide show. In addition, Michael has written letters to our school and visits us on Fridays when he can. The students think a lot of him and are learning so many important things about the country in which they live. None of this would be possible if it were not for our driver Michael."