Steve Scalice was driving his Kenworth in Arkansas in early 2019 when he suffered a brain hemorrhage. He was in surgery for a couple of days to remove a tumor – which left him unable to work for nearly six months.
“I began to panic after trying to get help from short-term disability and other government organizations, only to be denied,” said Scalice. A fellow driver told him about the St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund, which helped him with the financial burden and allowed him to focus on his recovery.
Scalice was one of 344 truckers and their families helped last year by the charitable organization, founded in 2008 to help professional truck drivers who were in bad financial straits after being out of work due illness or injury. In late 2019, the charitable organization hit a milestone of having given $3 million in financial assistance, helping 2,805 drivers and their families. In 2019 alone, $487,000 was given.
Joyce Brenny, president of the organization’s volunteer board of directors for 2020, is on a mission to hit $1 million in donations in order to continue to help truckers as well as expand the group’s efforts to help drivers with wellness.
I talked to Joyce, who’s a member of the HDT Editorial Advisory Board and a former HDT Truck Fleet Innovator, about her goals for this year.
Joyce is founder, president and CEO of Brenny Transportation in Saint Joseph, Minnesota. I’ve written before about her passion for professional truck drivers. So it’s not surprising that when she learned about St. Christopher’s Fund, she was all in.
Her focus for 2020 is to get more trucking fleets involved in supporting the program.
“Truck drivers have supported St. Christopher’s from day one and they’re our biggest contributors,” she said. “But the people making money off of truck drivers should be supporting truck drivers.”
Expanding Preventive Efforts
One of the reasons Joyce wants to help the organization bring in more funds is to help it expand its preventive health program efforts.
“It’s just my passion,” she says. “We hired a wellness director two years ago here at our company. Giving drivers the opportunity to set wellness goals and have someone to talk with and track those goals has really helped.”
The top diagnoses from the applicant pool includes serious medical issues such as heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer. Most professional drivers deal with more than one of these issues, and many of them are dealing with obesity as well. The risk for many of these conditions can be reduced by a healthier diet, more movement, smoking cessation, and health prevention screenings. That is why the national nonprofit helps beyond financial assistance by providing health and wellness programs to help educate and support driver health.
For instance, the Rigs without Cigs program, created in 2017, in its first two years helped 91 drivers go tobacco-free and another 74 cut back their smoking by at least half. Another project in the works, Joyce told me, is looking for ways to help drivers deal with clinical depression and other mental health issues.
“It’s about the families, too; I think that’s what people need to realize,” Joyce said. “This is bigger than one driver that had a medical situation. It’s about their families, it’s about their children, it’s about the people who sit at home and wait for their loved one to come home.”
You can donate to the St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund at https://truckersfund.org/.
(Disclosure: HDT is a sponsor of St. Christopher’s Fund.)