“From the early days of this award to the present, you have always found the best of the best in human instinct. The rush to respond in an instant is not in every person who is witness to accidents and tragedies. However, when the instinct to react is there, it is genuinely and act of heroism. It should always be clear that this is a damn good program.” -Boyd Lowell Applegate, truck driver and recipient of the 1993 Goodyear national highway hero award
I don‘t know Boyd Applegate, but I wish I did - just like I wish I‘d been able to meet any of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.‘s national highway heroes. These folks are more than truck drivers; they are living, breathing proof that everyday people are capable of extraordinary things.
Boyd recently wrote a letter to Donn Kramer, director of Goodyear‘s commercial tire marketing department, talking about how he found himself in the middle of yet another potentially fatal highway scene - an injured man in the roadway - earlier this year (on Good Friday no less) yet managed to not only avoid hitting the pedestrian but also stopped to render much needed aid.
Months later, he wrote that the trauma of that evening came back to him upon reading a small item about the latest Goodyear highway hero winner, causing him to shake and cry. Yet Boyd‘s nerves were solid as steel when he saved that pedestrian - never flinching for a second when he braked and swerved in such a way to avoid the man but also prevent his rig from jack knifing. Only other drivers in this industry know how hard something like that is to accomplish - and here Boyd did it almost instinctively.
I relate Boyd‘s tale here because nominations for this year‘s highway hero are still open, until November 30 [and you can clink here to nominate one of them or call the Goodyear hero hotline at 330-796-8183.]. I know there are many, MANY noteworthy stories out there worthy of this award and I encourage you to submit them because, frankly, these are tales worth telling.
[It‘s important to emphasize here that all nominees for this award must be full-time truck drivers and must reside in the U.S. or Canada]
I‘ve talked to lots of drivers over the years and heard just amazing stories of heroism - made all the more amazing because the drivers themselves didn‘t give their deeds much of a second thought. Someone needed help - they rendered aid. From their perspective, that‘s the long and short of it - period.
Oh, but it‘s so much more than that. Take Charles Ingram, for example - Goodyear's 2002 highway hero. A veteran owner-operator for FedEx Ground, Ingram was driving his 18-wheeler in the metro Atlanta area when he came upon an accident with a car on fire. Two passengers were trapped inside the burning vehicle, but none of the gathered bystanders were attempting to fight the fire or rescue the pair. Ingram grabbed a hammer and rushed in to the scene, breaking out the windows to pull both driver and passenger to safety.
As you can see, not everybody can do what the Ingram‘s and Applegate‘s of the world do. People stood around and nearly watched a care fire consume two lives - Ingram jumped in there and stopped that tragedy from occurring. Rightfully, he takes a lot of pride in what he did that day six years ago - and hopes his actions help shine a more positive light on what his brothers and sisters behind the big rig wheels do for a living.
“It‘s so important to the image of our industry to be seen helping others,” Ingram said. “That‘s why I hope more people will consider nominating those drivers who they think deserve the Highway Hero award.”
“Since receiving this honor I have rescued and additional five drivers from overturned or wrecked vehicles,” added Boyd. “All of that would not mean as much as it does if it were not for this beautiful ring [one of the honors bestowed on Goodyear highway heroes]. It is a constant reminder that I am a good person. To this day, the ring is on my finger day and night for the world to see ... and I never tire of answering questions when people notice it. This program was an inspiration to me three years before I was nominated - and it still inspires me today.”
There are a ton of drivers out there like Charles and Boyd - men and women alike - and they need to be recognized for the good deeds they‘ve done.